A Magical Monday
July 23, 2018 by Don Gentle
I enjoyed the wake-up bell probably most of all this morning. I met two groups of boys that were heading out on a climbing trip as well as the two-day advanced paddling trip. They were super excited to be involved in the morning wake-up process. I was super excited to see this next generation of High Rocks paddlers moving up the ranks. These boys will be heading out on some solid class three whitewater for a couple of days. I feel like we offer some of the best instruction in all of our activities, but I hold paddling a little closer to my heart. It was my first job here at High Rocks over twenty years ago. After that first summer, I headed up the paddling program for several years. Even as I find myself to be more of a bike enthusiast these days, I still hold those paddling roots pretty strong. My girls are finally catching on and have been working hard on their gates test all weekend even after returning from a month of camp at Illahee. Anyhow back to my original story. The house rule is only one person can ring the bell. The rest of us wait for the cue to scream out “Good Morning High Rocks!” The bell ring was perfect, and the follow through of the chant rang through the trees like gospel. We all high-fived each other as the paddlers and climbers headed in for an early breakfast and I returned to my morning meeting.
As I headed down to assembly, I enjoyed watching really how much attention my dog Barley gets each day. He knows how to play it well. He always positions himself right in the path of the gym entrance so that the boys have to stop by to pet him, or even just lay right next to him on the way to assembly. While assembly was ripping it up, the mountain bikers were loading the last bikes to head out for yet another trip to Dupont just around the corner.
The Rolex Three Day Event kicked off today down at riding for the four-week boys. They will spend the next three days practicing jumping, dressage, and cross country. Today’s jumping looked to be quite impressive. Tomorrow they will hit the cross country course.
Our Mini II boys had a huge day! The Lakeside boys had a morning on the ropes course. Tomorrow Connestee will get their chance. Tonight all of the Mini II guys of headed out for the last “Chill Night” of the session. They will enjoy a night at world-famous Sliding Rock with water coming down at about 65 degrees! A chilly event. As if that was not enough, the boys will then head to the locally famous Dolly’s Dairy Bar to finish up the chilling event with a little ice cream. It is one of our favorite evening events that the boys always look forward to attending.
Some parents feel like four weeks of camp is too long. If you ask any of the boys in our month-long session, they would stay for five. The four week adds a lot to a camper’s opportunity. Not only do they enjoy all the fun and excitement of camp, their skills progress to levels that equal some of our staff. The level of trips that happen in four weeks is incredible! It gives the boys an opportunity to take a five-day backpacking trip, and then turn around the next week and go on a two-day mountain biking trip. It’s pretty impressive to watch a camper score a 45 in archery (five arrows) at FORTY YARDS! Or like some of the whitewater pictures from last week; young men learning to enjoy class III whitewater in a tandem canoe. It’s important to remember that these boys are not just being “guided” like a tourist through these activities. The boys learn not just to climb, but to be a climber. They not only learn what it means to belay a friend up the rock but to also trust a friend to do the same. High Rocks is far from an amusement park.
I don’t want to confuse anyone. Some of these boys have worked several summers to get to this level of skill. I would say that is precisely what makes the reward even more enjoyable. The life skills of learning what it takes to master a skill reach far beyond the trees here at camp. And I haven’t even touched on the lasting friendships and independence they have learned over these last few weeks. I am so thankful for every one of you four-week parents that already understand everything I have mentioned above. Camp is of vital importance!
It is hard to believe we only have a few more days left in camp. You wouldn’t know it by the schedule. It is still going full force here at High Rocks…all the way to the end.
Have a great night,