Spending the night in a cave!

Pictures from July 15, 2010 (password required)

Tonight I asked one of our newest counselors, Alex Gregor, to write the blog.  Alex is a graduate of Davidson University where he earned his degree in Anthropology.  Since his graduation he has worked at Davidson in their Outdoor Program and as an employee of their IT Department. In the upcoming days we will have more of our outstanding counselors contribute to the blog as well. —Hank Birdsong

Fun on the waterslide!!

You might have marked yesterday as Bastille Day. At High Rocks, we didn’t follow up on our July 4th fireworks display with another, but there was plenty of other excitement at camp.

Extended trips are in full-swing at this point. As soon as one group of campers returns to camp, another one is headed out the door. While climbers returned from three days at the Obed, a popular climbing area in Tennessee, a group of advanced paddlers prepared to depart for West Virginia’s New River Gorge. At the same time, another group got ready to head out for an overnight trip Worley’s Cave. The trip leaders, Ben Little and Elizabeth Thompson, had their participants take a look at a pair of coat hangers before they set out. The US Geological Survey says that if an underground passageway is as big as the space within a coat hanger, then it’s big enough to squeeze through. I was ready to take their word for it but several of the campers, who returned to camp today after spending the night underground, confirmed that a coat-hanger-sized tunnel is plenty big to crawl inside.

One of the things I appreciate the most at High Rocks as a counselor is the variety that each day offers. In my role as one of camp’s photographers, I spent most of my morning chasing the campers with the craziest hairdos, trying to get some photos worthy of sending home. I spent some time on the tennis courts, the archery and riflery range, and one of our pastures while horseback riders trotted past. Just a few days before, I was taking photos from an eddy on the Green River. Not long after that, I was hanging off our climbing tower from a rope, taking photos as guys screamed down the zipline. For a photographer who loves the outdoors, working at High Rocks is a dream job. I take photos all morning and then teach mountain biking all afternoon. It’s a great community of people to spend time with and I think one of the camp t-shirts pretty much sums it up: “If it’s awesome, we do it at High Rocks.”

When I got to camp for staff training earlier this summer, I was really impressed to learn that fellow counselor David Kirby loves to compete in ultra marathons, ridiculously long races that have him running up and down mountain trails for 50, 75, or 100km at a time. David organized High Rocks’ first triathlon, which took place yesterday afternoon. We decided to drop the “ultra” part and keep things short. A group of campers and counselors jumped into the lake for an aptly named “tri swim” (The name’s older than our triathlon but we’ll take it. And if campers do 10 of these in a summer, they get a free trip to Dolly’s…). After swimming out to a couple of buoys and back, we took off on mountain bikes for Chainbreaker Hill, a formidable climb that leads up to a grassy pasture and the top of Jaybreaker Hill, a rolling, grassy descent to camp below. Still dripping from our swim, we blasted down Jaybreaker but slammed on the brakes before we got to the bottom. A herd of horses was having dinner right in the middle of our trail. With a quick detour by foot, we were back on track, riding into camp to start our run around the Lake Loop Trail. About a mile and a half later, we were greeted with cheers and high-fives back at the dock.

We weren’t keeping time at all during the triathlon. All of us who participated stuck together for the entire event, starting and finishing as a group. Another group did the same today, mostly following the same route but doing an abbreviated mountain bike ride. It was a blast for all the guys who participated. One camper who cheered us on said tonight, “I want all of you who did the triathlon to talk to me after dinner. I want to make you shirts, which I’ll give you next summer.”

The whole event showcased the camaraderie, goofiness, and fun that I love about High Rocks. It was a great way to celebrate my 24th birthday, which was yesterday. I’m hard pressed to think of one I enjoyed more.

–Alex Gregor

(ps from Hank- Before the caving trip left yesterday, several of us tested out the “coathanger test” by going through a coathanger from head to toe.  Smaller campers had no trouble at all.  I was able to do it, but there was some grunting involved!!)

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