Not So Hidden Gems
July 11, 2017 by Dan Noland
In one way, today started off like many other camp days: We had a wonderful flurry of early trips heading out for trails, river, and rocks. We already had two hiking trips out from yesterday, so, when breakfast of cereal—including Cocoa Crispies!!, bacon, boiled eggs, grits, and tons of fruit started, the dining room bordered on peaceful.
The day, though now mid-July hot, was an amazing display of some of the things that make even a regular camp day so special. Nick and Harry took a group through the woods to Polar Bear Falls. On the way, they spotted two black rat snakes, one about six feet long, and at the stream, Nick is pretty sure they saw a hellbender: a large, mud-colored, primitive, endangered salamander. Look it up!
In pottery, the Minis got to deploy the skills they have been learning so far on electric wheels, where patience, precision, and practice turn a mere lump of clay into, well, you’ll see Saturday.
Some swimmers went to a special pool in Dupont State Forest, not far below Triple Falls but satisfyingly removed from crowded Hooker Falls. There they got into moving water, safely below a smaller fall, to experience the difference between the still water of the lake and water that pushes constantly. They also learned that you can literally chill out in eddies.
Late this afternoon, a bunch of tired mountain bikers drooped out of the returning van. They had been to the Guion Farm section of Dupont, working hard, especially on front-wheel lifts, known on the street as popping wheelies, but, on trails, lifting the bike’s front is the only chance to get over larger rocks and logs. Timing is crucial, as is balance, some strength, and, as usual, the skills they are developing.
As the pictures demonstrate, the climbers at Pilot Rock enjoyed a truly fine experience: a view of the Blue Ridge available only to those who know how to ascend a vertical face. Their faces were beaming when they got back.
Activities are supposed to be fun, and they are, but they are so much more. Genuine learning takes place, often without campers knowing how much they have learned until trips and activities like today’s reveal just how competent they are becoming. In turn, they develop appropriate confidence in themselves, because of what they know and the fact that they have worked hard to learn as well.
I haven’t heard any katydids yet, but I know that they are coming soon. We’ll have to content ourselves tonight with the songs of barred owls and whippoorwills as the waning moon eases us to sleep.