We Work Hard… And Play Harder!
June 20, 2014 by Woody Noland
We are closing out the second work week of camp with a well-deserved movie break of Princess Bride tonight, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With our wonderful crew of campers thoroughly exhausted by these last five days, the announcement of an evening spent relaxing as one large group, with tons of popcorn to boot, came as a welcome surprise. Within 45 minutes of dinner closing, the entire group was flooding into the gym, freshly showered and rocking their PJs in the full expectation of crashing hard right after the flick.
And man do they have a right to be tired. These last five days was a whirlwind of activity, trips, and fun. The week closed out with quite a bang as well with five more trips out of camp and another crew on the high ropes course. Our swimmers skipped out of camp this afternoon heading for the local water hole at the base of Hooker Falls in DuPont Forest. The addition of current (albeit slow and swirling) presented a whole new kind of challenge for the group after training in our calm and predictable lake. A group of our mountain bikers were treated to a new experience today in the form of an excursion to Jackson Bike Park in Henderson County. This was a group of competent and confident riders who have spent a lot of time in the program learning not only how to ride well and safely, but how to judge a challenge in front of them wisely. The park presents a completely different style of riding to the guys that emphasizes some technical aspects of their skill set while focusing on some really thrilling moves including table tops, pump tracks, and even the chance to get some (controlled) air. I hope you enjoy some of their pictures tonight.
An excited group of young paddlers busted out of camp early this morning bound for Section 2 of the Chattooga River forming the state line between South Carolina and Georgia. The Chattooga is classified as Wild and Scenic with wonderful water quality and a true sense of adventure as you disappear from roads, houses, or any other typical presence of civilization. Instead you replace the oft-forgotten background noise of people with birds, frogs, the murmur (and roar!) of whitewater, and a long series of natural rapids covered in huge rocks to eat lunch on, take a break on top of, or go swimming off of. The paddlers returned to camp tired, proud, and ready for some cool mountain air once more.
Our climbers also returned from their overnight trip to the Cedar Rock area where the boys got to experience the totally different rhythm of camping in the same place you are climbing. Gone is the pressure of time found in a day trip as the group could climb more deliberately and with longer breaks in between to more fully recover… only to then push harder in the next attempt. After tackling some routes the first day, the boys got a chance to relax over dinner and a campfire with the rock face looming in the near distance. Several spoke about the change brought on after contemplating what the next day would bring while actually studying some of the challenges they would soon face. The immersive nature of that experience can change the thrill of climbing up rocks to a more long term desire to continue pursuing the sport, the woods, and the other companionship of other climbers.
Another overnight experience was taking place at the same time but a good distance away in Panthertown Valley, one of the prettier places in WNC in my opinion. A group of our younger campers packed up yesterday and boldly headed out for a wonderful experience punctuated with far-off thunder rolls that added to the grandeur of the hike for the little guys. After establishing a camp site (always an involved affair), the crew’s skills were put to the test with a brief thirty minute shower which left them feeling like they had proved themselves. After a delightfully starchy dinner, the group mustered up the energy to summit a nearby mountaintop for a beautiful sunset treat before falling deeply asleep out of pure exhaustion. The next day was a strategic mix of hiking the necessary distance and the full enjoyment of a swimming hole only accessible by those who have put in the time on their own two feet. While showers were a must(!) for the guys when they returned, the stories were flowing in the cabins as movie prep was underway, always the sign of a good trip.
As you can see, a movie night that is well deserved and then a weekend to rejuvenate for the final push. It is not only fun to see the guys enjoy themselves in all the activities so much, but also to see how they handle physical and mental exhaustion. Some find a place in the middle of the action and sit down with a book, part of the group but enjoying a moment lost in their own head. Others today were completely happy taking some time to build a race track of pine cones and match our very patient lake salamanders in successive heats with commentary that would not have sounded amiss in any big Derby. Guys came together at the water fountains, under big shade trees, and on the docks to share in the companionship found in a community that works hard, plays harder, and then rests in that wonderful summer daze. The staff and campers both are modeling exactly what High Rocks is about and I hope that comes through in the pictures this evening. Enjoy, have a great start to your weekend, and we will see you back here after the Square Dance!!