Stories from camp: Overcoming fear and building confidence in one day.
Last summer, Meredith signed her 5-year-old son Graham up for Avid4 Adventure’s multi-sport Explorer Camp in Highlands Ranch on a recommendation from a friend. She kept expectations for her first-time camper realistic: “to have fun doing some new activities, make some friends and enjoy the Colorado summer.” What she didn’t expect was for him to like—or even participate in—the mountain biking portion of the week.
Graham was fairly comfortable riding a bike with training wheels, but once they came off, he shut down. “He had a few falls and then stubbornly refused to even try,” his mom told us. “He stopped trying to ride with his friends in the neighborhood.” No amount of coaxing or half steps (like a strider bike) would change his mind. “It was so sad that he just lost interest and felt so unhappy about it,” Meredith said.
So on mountain biking day at camp, Meredith told Graham’s instructors about his biking block and that he probably wouldn’t ride without training wheels. “I just assumed he wouldn’t like that day as much,” she told us. As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Just a few hours later, Meredith got a video text from Graham’s instructor at camp. In it, Graham wasn’t just riding a bike without training wheels, but riding without training wheels over ramps. And he had a huge smile on his face. “I teared up immediately,” Meredith admitted. “That might have been the best video ever.”
When Meredith picked Graham up from camp that day, she found that a proud, excited biker had replaced the reluctant rider she dropped off that morning. “We spent the rest of the afternoon until dark outside so he could ride his bike up and down the street and show everyone.”
So how did Graham transform from a non-biker into a ramp-loving rider on two wheels? Both he and his mom credit the Avid4 Adventure staff. Their patience and encouragement got Graham riding—”they said to try it and they would help me if I fell,” he remembered—and their thoughtful instruction gave him the skills he needed to ride with confidence. “It was incredible what the instructors at Avid4 were able to do for his confidence and ability,” Meredith said. “It’s so amazing that they gave him such a love for biking.”
Meredith also points to the video she received on mountain biking day as an above-and-beyond moment: “I had no idea what the video was or where it came from at first, I was so surprised! And so grateful, it was really awesome they took the time to send it.”
Since that day at camp, Graham’s enthusiasm for biking has only grown. He saved up his allowance to buy a bike ramp of his own and rides as much as he can, even accompanying his mom and big sister on weekend mountain biking excursions. When we asked him what he liked most about camp, the kid who refused to give up his training wheels one short a year ago said, “The biking! I like to go fast!”
Sending kids—especially little ones—to an unfamiliar place to try an activity they’re unsure of can be an unsettling prospect for parents. That’s why Avid4 Adventure creates a supportive, nurturing environment that gets kids comfortable with trying new things—and goes the extra mile to make sure their parents feel comfortable, too. At the very least, it’s an experience both kids and their parents feel great about. But often, as in Graham’s case, it’s one that also unlocks a powerful new passion for outdoor adventure.
May 16, 2016 | Emily Moeschler