Camp from a camper’s perspective
What happens at camp, errr . . .
Jack is a curious, adventure-seeking, can’t sit still kind of boy. He loves to be outdoors, learn new things, and be challenged. Know anyone like this?? On any given day, if you ask Jack whether he wants to learn a life skill (like how to grill burgers, so we’re not talking anything complex), he’ll say, “No, thank you.” (At least he uses his manners, right?) Buuuttt, when that life skill has to do with an outdoor activity like mountain biking, rock climbing or kayaking, he’s all over it.
Jack has been going to Avid4 Adventure day camps for the past 5 years, and there has never been a “been there, done that” conversation. Ever. Because Avid4 Adventure’s curriculum progresses as skills improve, Jack is always learning new things. And, apparently, if those skills and adventures are learned in the rain, all the better (for reasons I’ll never understand, but then again, I’ve never been a tween boy).
One of Jack’s Avid4 Adventure camps this summer was single-sport kayaking out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Jack’s group of 13 (including 1 girl from his school, in his grade, even on his team, who he never met before, but “she looked kind of familiar”) declared themselves the “Squishy Puppies,” and they were more than ready for their adventure to begin. (In case you’re wondering about that rather unique name, it came from a game where the campers sat in a circle, each telling the child to their left an adjective and a noun to the child on their right – and then they all voted.)
It’s a camp thing
Jack’s kayaking summary follows . . . and let me be clear that it was sooooo hard to write just a few sentences about each awesome adventure-filled day!
Day 1 Kayaking at Chatfield Reservoir. With a steady rain and a high of 59 degrees (“Yes,” 59 in July!), Jack and the rest of the Squishy Puppies seemed surprisingly excited at pick up. Jack tripped over his words talking about the skills they learned, which included strokes, navigation, safety and paddling – first on land and then in the water. The best part according to Jack? Falling into the water because it was warmer than the air. (Yikes!). The worst part? Not being able to paddle the whole day.
Day 2 Kayaking at Chatfield Reservoir. More rain? No problem. Skills were honed, follow the leader in kayaks was played, and memories were made. Campers learned high/low bracing, which, I discovered, was when you’re about to capsize and you bounce back into an upright position. Jack’s highlights? Riding out the boat wakes and practicing capsize skills. My less than highlight (because sometimes, it’s all about me)? Hearing Jack say, “I didn’t really miss you because I was having too much fun.” OK, maybe that’s ultimately a good thing, but it didn’t do anything to warm my already chilly heart.
Day 3 Kayaking at Chatfield Reservoir. In preparation for Day 4 in white water, campers learned and practiced eddy turns. (For those not in the know like me, eddy turns are tight turns to help you make your way down a rapid in small, reasonable segments.) Kiddos also learned about rescue techniques and practiced with throw ropes. Jack said the best part was kayaking through the trees. When I pointed out there were no trees in the reservoir, he said, “There are now.” (And that would be courtesy of all the recent rain, and the water level being more than 7 feet above normal.) The low point was still being at Chatfield since Jack was hoping they’d be on white water by then.
Day 4 Kayaking at Clear Creek White Water Park. Jack was beyond excited to kayak on class 1, moving water. I was less thrilled given the high, fast water this year, but one of Jack’s counselors told me there would be an additional counselor and the kids would paddle for short stretches and regroup. Phew. Before the kiddos could kayak their designated stretch, they had to go down in swimmer’s position (on their backs, using their arms) to get familiar with the water and obstacles they’d encounter while paddling. This exercise was a definite high point for Jack! He loved maneuvering around rocks and through fallen trees. And, the low point, which I could have guessed even before we got out of the car in the morning, was not being able to do it longer.
Day 5 Kayaking at Clear Creek White Water Park. The low point of the day came at the beginning when Jack realized this was the last day of camp. (Can you see a pattern here?) It was also the nicest weather day, and rain jackets and warm hats could be left tucked inside backpacks. Finally! While the kayaking enthusiasts headed to the same spot, they were able to go down more times, practice the skills they learned during the week and, according to Jack and the rest of the Squishy Puppies, that made this day the best one yet . . . well, that and the obstacles, of course!
To recap . . .
Jack’s top 3 highlights (in no particular order):
- Having awesome, rock star counselors, Adam and Allison, who made each day fun-filled, exciting and interesting in less than ideal weather conditions.
- Managing to not get stuck on a hidden, submerged picnic table at Chatfield.
- Kayaking on white water.
Jack’s top 3 lowlights . . . actually, there was only 1:
- Having only 5 days of kayaking (because, apparently, camp should be longer).
As soon as 2016 camp registration opens, Jack will be ready with his choices. I’m not sure what Jack is looking forward to more – another kayaking camp or being old enough to be a part of the Avid4 Adventure staff!
Share your Avid4 Adventure memories by adding a comment to Facebook or to this post. We’d LOVE to hear from you!
About the Author: Lynne Marsala Basche spent most of her career on the island of Manhattan at two New York publishing companies. A multi-year Avid4 Adventure mom and a new contributor to the Avid4 Adventure website, Lynne’s writing adventures also take her to championing volunteerism and regional recreation stories as a staff writer for the Castle Pines Connection newspaper, as well as supporting separate large corporate communications programs. By trying to keep pace with her mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, lacrosse playing, unicycling, tae kwon do-loving 11-year old son, she, like most Avid4 parents, loves sharing the value of outdoor recreation and its positive influence on children’s health and confidence development. Lynne lives in Castle Pines, Colorado and regularly immerses herself in outdoor activities with her family where she also runs her freelance writing company, Blue Spruce Creative