July 11, 2014 by Woody Noland
It is amazing to me that we are already wrapping up the second week of the session. It seems like just yesterday that the guys were rolling up the road, but the accomplishments in that time have been significant and continue to build speed. In a walk around camp today, I was struck with how comfortable everyone seems to be now that they are smack in the middle of their experience here (or for some, just finishing their time!). There is a rhythm to the camp day that everyone settles into and our campers now are fully embracing it. They are busy and serious in the instructional activity times as all of them are focused on goals or trips that they set for themselves earlier in the session. For many guys, now that they have seen their skills and abilities improve with two weeks of work, the opportunities allowed in the second half of camp seem very real, very possible, and exciting to say the least.
In canoeing today, a host of our older paddlers busted out early for a run down Section 9 of the French Broad River, an intermediate/advanced run which affords “Choose Your Own Adventure” sort of experience due to its vast width and innumerable routes down the rapids. Thanks to a well-timed storm front, the water level was at a perfect height for the paddlers to push their skills and encounter some surprisingly difficult features! Climbers also shot out of camp for Horseshoe Rock where they got a solid bit of climbing in before weather shooed them back out of the woods. Instead of returning to camp, they took advantage of the fresh rainfall to check out some spectacular waterfalls in DuPont that were all the more impressive from the increased flow.
A group of mountain bikers hit up Jackson Park in Henderson County for an experience different from trail riding or working obstacles in camp. They rode features that are entirely man-made and require a combination of skill and caution gained from the previous two weeks. Some of the older riders were quite impressed with the completeness of the workout after just fifteen minutes in the pump track which requires no pedaling, but engages the entire body to stay in motion. We also had our 2-Day hike return from Panthertown where they did a loop on the Cold Mountain Gap trail. While the campers got to practice their rain-proofing, the group was very proud of their physical accomplishments and got to take in some beautiful views of that scenic valley.
As we head into the weekend, you can almost sense the collective sigh of relief from a group of people that have been working (and playing!) hard from sun up to sun down. Campers are eating more, sleeping harder, and pushing themselves further than they would have thought possible even two short weeks ago. In those two weeks, our first time campers have become veterans already and are beginning to understand that genuine camaraderie, which forms in a community that wears itself out in all manner of adventurous and fun pursuits. One of the payoffs is the satisfaction of arriving at a weekend full of goofy games, square dances, and time to just enjoy being in such a beautiful place with your friends new and old. These guys deserve these next two days of relaxing in the lake, reading a book under a tree, or playing a leisurely game of tennis while planning and packing for the next and seriously busy week to come. Enjoy the pictures and I hope everyone reading has a wonderful (and relaxing) weekend as well!