Week 4 – Spring Break

There are no school groups coming to Camp this past week or for the next two weeks. This is due to spring break and testing throughout the state. So what does that mean for work? A wider variety of things for us to do including group workshops, instructor training, office work, and maintenance.

On Monday, a high school softball team came to Camp for a day long team building session, with an afternoon on the ropes course. Cougar, one of the directors, was in charge, and Songbird, Snake, and I helped out. The team was a little late showing up because we got about 5” of snow the night before, but were excited and ready to go when they did arrive. We started off with some team building activities inside before lunch: helium hoops, group jump rope, and a group memory game to get them thinking about what kind of characteristics are important for their team throughout the season. We tried to introduce a clothespin tag game (clip a clothespin to someone’s clothes without them noticing), but it got the girls too paranoid about being clipped, so we had to stop it. After lunch, we went out to the ropes course for a lot of fun! Compared to the middle schoolers, more of the girls were excited and confident to be up there. We still had those who definitely were not, though. One girl in particular, was very nervous about going up on the pole at all. Cougar talked with her a little bit while everyone was harnessing up (she was a little teary then) and he asked me to check on her once we had everyone else up on the course because we did not have enough leads (what clip you into the course so you don’t fall to the ground) for everyone. By that time, she had managed to mentally commit herself to going up the ladder and onto the platform, at least, which was awesome, compared to where it looked like she had been before. I would guess that peer pressure and seeing all of her teammates up there having fun played a significant role. When we were finally able to get her a pair of leads, she went up the ladder, a little slowly and nervously, but made it all of the way up to the platform! Then, after sitting for a little while, getting her bearings 25’ up, she even managed to step out onto one of the elements (despite looking terrified the entire time) and back onto the platform to sit until she came down. One of the older girls, clearly one of the leaders based on how she acted throughout the experience, came over and sat with her on the platform for a while and made look significantly more calm, which was just great to see. At one point, Cougar happened to look over, saw this girl all the way up on the platform, and his face just erupted with happiness. It was great.

On Tuesday, the staff had its official ropes course training session so that everyone was prepared to at least second on a ropes course activity, if not lead. Cougar was in charge of this as well. We started off with a bunch of team building, comfort-zone pushing activities as well. One of the most note-able was nose jousting. Try it with your friends. Everyone gets a piece of scotch tape, about 6” long. Role it into a loop, sticky side out, and stick it onto your nose however you want. Choose an opponent. Opponents lean in to touch tapes, then pull away quickly to try to keep both pieces of tape. Winner then goes after other pieces of tape. Just be careful to not give anyone a bloody nose… After the activities (and waiver signings) we went out to the ropes course to go over ropes course set up – getting the gear out of the box, checking it properly, and putting it in its proper place, tying ladders to poles so they are well stabilized, hanging the ropes we clip participants in to as they ascend, etc. Then we had lunch. After lunch, we got to do the really fun stuff. After reviewing how to teach kids about the gear they would be using and suiting ourselves up, we got to practice the rescue maneuver that we have to know in case anyone becomes immobilized on the ropes course – cutting them down. Basically, you hang the rescue belay, hook it to yourself and them, cut their leads, and then descend while cradling them with your arms and legs. It is pretty funny. But, we all got to cut someone down and be cut down, so it was a successful activity. Then, we got to play on the course for a little bit, so that we were familiar with the elements and what the kids experience when they go up. Ok, and mostly for fun. And to end it all, we got to go down the zip line! What a great day.

Wednesday and Thursday were office/maintenance days. We cleaned up the shelters that last week’s group of kids erected but never took down (our/time’s fault), collected sticks for starting fires, changed light bulbs, painted, laid tile, split wood, and mulched. Additionally, we got to work on the Camp’s OE curriculum and lesson plans. The Camp director is really interested in adding technology into the programs we have running, so we are trying to find ways to do that. One vague idea that we have been expanding on is using Citizen Science in our science classes (geology, stream study, the day hike, rotten log ecology…). Citizen Science (CS) is an opportunity for scientists to use the wide spread availability of the internet and smart phones to collect large quantities of data, basically. The scientists create websites or phone apps (applications/programs) through which citizens (non-scientists/non-professionals) can record relevant information that they find. A fun example that we came across: the Splatter Spotter. People take pictures of road kill that they come across on their smart phone, list the location (smart phones have GPS) and information about the kill (species, etc…), and the scientists accumulate this information so they can detect trends in road kill and tell people what kinds of animals to look out for depending on where they are driving! So much fun. Our goal, is to get involved with a CS program, or create our own, so that the kids can feel like they are contributing to a larger project, compare past and current data, and become more familiar with the scientific process. Turtle and I have been working on this idea, searching for interesting projects and opportunities that fit with the classes we have, and on Thursday we started developing some basic lesson plans. On Thursday afternoon, we also got to have some arts and crafts time, where we made some miniature shelters as models for the students to look at before they have to build their own full size shelter for survival class. That was a good time.

The staff got Friday off for Easter weekend, which I used to drive home to see the family for the weekend. A lot of driving for a short time at home, but it was nice to be there for a holiday. I hope that you had a delightful Easter weekend, too, as the weather is starting to warm up. Hopefully you and I will take advantage of this fortunate turn of events to get out and create some adventures!

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