Stories from camp: Learning to fall and get back up again

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The photos on our website of kids engaging in incredible adventures might cause families to think Avid4 Adventure is only for super-athletic kids. The truth is, many of the kids that attend our camps every year start out very tentative about participating in those adventures. That was certainly the case for Madison, who, before camp, was too intimidated even to join the kids in her neighborhood on their bikes. “Trying to figure out pedaling, balancing and steering was just too much,” her mom Katherine explained, “she was constantly worried about falling and getting hurt.”

Madison, now 8, attended Avid4 Adventure’s multi-sport Adventure Camp in Golden last summer, and “while she was excited to hike, canoe, kayak and rock climb, she dreaded the mountain biking day.” Still, Katherine and her husband felt strongly about getting their kids outside to try new things—even though they knew mountain biking day would push Madison out of her comfort zone. “I had butterflies in my stomach,” Madison remembered.

Fortunately, our camps are awesome places for kids like Madison. Staffed with instructors who know how to push just the right amount, kids learn to stretch their boundaries in an encouraging, nurturing environment. Because while we understand their very real fears, we also believe that learning to take positive risks is an essential part of growing up—and that there’s nothing that activates kids’ confidence (and calms their butterflies) quite like outdoor adventure.

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When mountain biking day arrived, Madison’s instructors let her use her own road bike until she felt comfortable trying a mountain bike, working with her step by step as she learned new skills and put them into practice. Later that day, Madison’s biggest fear came true: biking down a hill, she hit a rock and fell. But her instructor was there immediately to offer comfort, Band-Aids and—most importantly—the encouragement she needed to get right back on her bike.

When Katherine picked Madison up after camp, “she could not wait to tell me about her day. She showed me her scrapes and bruises, but she also smiled. ‘I did it, Mom!’ she said.” The thing she’d been most worried about had happened—and she couldn’t have been more excited about it.  

In large part, Katherine attributes Madison’s mountain biking triumph to her instructors and the fun, supportive environment they created at camp. “They had a great way of explaining things to the kids,” she said. “They figured out how to teach them to appreciate the outdoors and keep safety in mind, but still have fun.” As Madison explained it, “I was really nervous, but my counselors made me feel better. They push you in a good way and help you do things you haven’t done before.”

When we asked Katherine what she would say to other parents who are considering Avid4 Adventure day camps, she talked about Madison’s continuing confidence and increased willingness to take risks in all areas of her life, from sports to performing on stage. “I think Avid4 is a great way for kids to be pushed out of their comfort zone and try new things,” she said. “I cannot say that Madison developed a love of biking from her Avid4 experience, but she did learn to take a deep breath and try again—even if it sometimes means falling.”

Madison - contest winner

This summer, Madison is looking forward to a full week of stand up paddleboarding at one of our single-sport camps. “I am excited to get to paddleboard all by myself and learn the right way to do it,” she told us. And mountain biking? “I am still nervous about it,” Madison admitted, “but I would do it again.”

May 16, 2016 | Emily Moeschler
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