Wonderful Wilderness Wednesday
October 5, 2016 by Woody
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, known now as the Purple Unicorns, 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 group now known as the Purple Dragons (upgraded after a successful voyage) returned to camp rather exhausted but full of stories from the river and ready for some dinner!
Group 2, the Falling Coconuts, split their day between stream ecology 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 head 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 Coconuts 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 Undecideds (formerly I Phish), 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 grilled cheese and soup to recharge. This afternoon saw the crew back on their feet and learning how to navigate with a map and compass. 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.
Group 4, Harambe, 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, Team Anonymous, began their day with map and compass in hand, bravely stepping out on to some of camp’s 1000 acres of trails, forest, streams, and waterfalls. The students successfully found several waterfalls on property, along with one of our overnight shelters hidden deep in the woods which delighted them as both a sign of victory, and a place to sit for a while as they discussed their newly-learned skills. 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 groups are all burning some energy in some serious dodgeball games after a delicious dinner of spinach pie, slow-cooked chicken, homemade oatmeal bread, and some keylime bars for dessert. Once the class has run enough, they will face off against the High Rocks staff in a battle of the wits known as “Are You Smarter Than A Seventh Grader?” I do not know the results of the match, but look forward to hearing about the game over breakfast in the morning. I hope you enjoy the pictures from the day and we will see you back tomorrow with another full day of action to report!