Comfort Zones & Challenge by Choice

Dear Parents & Friends,

A cool and overcast day here was a welcome relief to the weather we’ve been having.  For the next few days we’ll have cooler temps and will enjoy a break from the rain and humidity.  Our first day of Discovery started today with the T,TH,S group.  Tomorrow will be the first day for the F,M,W group.  Everyone I talked with today had a great first day.  The beginner canoer’s from Main Camp learned their first strokes today on the lake with Cindy and Mary Stiles.  They might even make it to the river next week if they continue to improve.  I was at the Farm leading a camp tour today and there are bunches of baby chicks that have just hatched.  The baby piglets are eating and sleeping and crawling all over Big Mama.  She is doing her best to keep them fed and nurtured.  Soon the little ones will be coming out to play. Gourd Art got off to a good start today.  We grow gourds at the farm during the summer and dry them over the winter.  By the time camp gets here you can choose from hundreds of shapes and make a gourd that you can customize.  You can etch it, paint it, create all kinds of shapes and holes in it, use it to hold your desk items or make a birdhouse.  One of these days we hope to make some brooms from the broom straw that Dale grows at the farm.  Fishing at the Mill today was a hit but we didn’t catch quite as many fish.  I’m looking forward to the next fish fry when the whole meal comes from GV.  Fish, cornbread, cole slaw and potatoes.  The food today was spectacular.  Meatloaf for dinner tonight.  I don’t eat that much beef but it was hard not to have a second helping.  Mac and cheese was for lunch today with salad and a great vegetable medley.  Breakfast was pancakes and bacon.  I may roll or waddle home tonight.

Jackson kayakers got their first wet exits today with some trepidation but it’s part of the program.  Our philosophy is to take campers just outside their comfort zones and pull them back in, just in time to build confidence.  We call it perceived risk vs actual risk.  The camper perceives it as scary and over the edge but in actuality it’s quite safe.  With a staff member right there to assist, one works off of trust and the power of gentle encouragement.  Many of our adventure sports work on the same principal and challenge by choice comes into play.  We encourage higher, farther, deeper and steeper but not to the point of no return or danger to the child.  Go a little higher on the wall, perform an S turn on this rapid, roll over the lip of this rock on your bike and push yourself to hike the last hill without stopping, are in our teaching bag of tricks each day.  In our biking program we ask the campers to learn the “attack position” where you stand up off the saddle with your feet in the 3 & 9 position or even with one another.  It takes some a while to get used to this and probably the worse place to remain on uneven ground is in the saddle.  Use those legs as shock absorbers and let the bike move under you while shifting your weight.  Leaning into turns in your canoe or kayak is also a hard one to teach.  Most of time if you don’t lean the river will provide the wake up call.

Speaking of rivers the Riversider’s just returned from their paddling component and spent today running Section #9 of the French Broad.  It’s the most difficult section of the river near Hot Springs, NC.  Yesterday they ran the Nantahala and the day before the Tuck.  They’ve had a great week of rivers and are glad to be home with hot showers and camp food.  They’re off again on Sunday for the backpacking component.  Mountainside begins packing tomorrow because they also leave for adventures on Sunday.  Next week will be a busy week here a t camp with many trips out.  I only wish I could go on them all.  Stay tuned!