To New Heights!

Today’s Pictures

Yet another cool morning but the sun was shining bright in a very blue sky the entire day, warming things up quickly and providing plenty of motivation for the group to get out and start their activities as fast as possible.

Group 1, the Ball Brothers, had a full day on the water. They began on our lake learning the fun and frustrations of maneuvering a large canoe with a partner. Using buoys, geese, and our island as navigation points, they quickly got the hang of paddling in straight lines and then turning the canoe on command. This practice was to prepare them for their afternoon spent on a section of river near the headwaters of the French Broad. While this section provides an introduction to whitewater, it still has a significant current pushing relentlessly downstream, forcing our new boating pairs to communicate clearly and quickly to avoid approaching obstacles like rocks and sticks. The Brothers returned to camp rather exhausted but full of stories from the river and ready for some dinner!

Group 2, Barley and His Honda Civic, split their day between exploring in DuPont State Forest and then an afternoon on our High Ropes course. Stream ecology was a little chilly to begin, but once critters began to be located the enthusiasm increased, resulting in more and more finds. Once interest began to wane, the crew headed further into the forest to check out some of the truly impressive waterfalls of the area. They also had a somewhat indirect brush with fame when they could stand near the exact spot that Peta, in the movie The Hunger Games, camouflaged himself in the rocks by the falls. After lunch, the Barleys shook off some post-meal sleepiness easily once they ventured out onto shaky wires fifty feet in the air. While fears were immediately found and confronted, the group did an excellent job of extending verbal support and encouragement to all, talking everyone through the experience before finishing off on our zipline.

Group 3, the Legion of Nerds, began their day on the climbing tower. From learning to put on harnesses, tie the appropriate knots, and even how to belay, the morning was packed full of new experiences. It was impressive to see how natural the students were at an activity they may never have tried before. By the end of the morning however, arms and legs were seriously weary and looking forward to a mid-day meal of philly cheesesteak sloppy joes to recharge. This afternoon saw the crew back on their feet and learning how to navigate with a compass and pace count. Although orienteering was new for many of them and resulted in some expected challenges, they once again persevered and were able to bushwhack through a section of woods following their compass bearings and little else. The group was rewarded at the end of their journey with some time at the High Rocks and a snack!

Group 4, Ducklings Unite, started their day heading straight for the French Broad river. Having already practiced skills yesterday afternoon, they quickly remembered lessons to navigate successfully through the rapids. They too came back tired from a surprising amount of exertion, but no rest was in store for them as their afternoon put them onto the climbing tower. Showing the amazing rejuvenation abilities of youth, they climbed hard all afternoon before heading over to a rousing game of GaGa Ball to work up an appetite for dinner.

Our fifth group, Los Pinguinos Criminales, began their day with compass in hand, bravely stepping out on to some of camp’s 1000 acres of trails, forest, streams, and waterfalls. For the second half of their day, the students engaged in some teamwork exercises on our low ropes course before hopping in canoes on the lake to learn the basics of navigation and communication in a tandem boat in preparation for their river trip tomorrow morning.

Tonight the students are breaking up into their activity groups after dinner (grilled chicken, homemade rolls, green beans, and mashed potatoes) and will enjoy evening hikes and games on the property.  The groups will disperse themselves across our trail network so that they don’t bump up on one another while they do fox walks, play games of “bat and moth”, take solo sits, and create ever-classic wintergreen lifesaver fireworks.  After a little bit of debriefing and stargazing, they will return to the dining hall for a snack, a final thought, and dismissal to bed.  That’s all for tonight!  We’ll be in touch again tomorrow!

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