Greetings Parents, Friends and Families –
One of the more unique parts of camp is our overnight program. Once a week, the campers leave their tipis behind and head out to another part of the island or even a neighboring island to spend the night. Some hike, some bike, some kayak, some canoe, but we all head somewhere new to spend the night. The skills that campers learn on these overnights will be carried with them the rest of their lives. I heard a staff member who was a former camper for a number of years say “After my second Mountaineer year, I knew how to cook more things over a fire than I did in a real kitchen.” And it’s true! Campers learn how to build fires to keep them warm, set up tarp shelters to keep them dry, and learn how to prepare food in the wilderness, and it’s honestly one of the best parts of camp!
Over the last few years, camp has inherited a progressive system to teach skills and build on skills learned in past years. Explorer/Archer year you learn the ropes and basics of building a tarp shelter and sleeping outside. Ranger/Mariner year you have your first overnight off island, the next year as a Pio/Vagabond, you have your first multi-night trip. Two nights at a beautiful campground next to a lake, where you spend the extra day away from camp hiking, exploring, and swimming. The next year, Forester/Voyager you go on a Little-Big Trip, four days of alpine trekking, biking through the islands, or a voyage in one of our two Hunt Canoes. The next three years, Islander/Wayfarer and Mountaineer/Troubadour you go on five-day Big Trips, either an Alpine hike in the Cascades, a trip up Mt. Baker, a Kayak expedition, a Biking expedition, a Hunt Canoe trip, or a Sailing trip.
Later this summer we will do another blogpost focusing on Big Trips specifically, because they on their own are a unique experience unlike any other. Not often are you given such a mental and physical challenge, and the opportunity to band together as a group, get out of your comfort zone, and accomplish so much. How many fourteen year olds can say that they have biked over 100 miles in 5 days across the San Juan Islands? How many 16 year olds can say they have summited the second highest mountain in the Cascades, Mt. Baker?
That’s getting ahead of myself, but the point still stands. The skills you use on these big trips, for example learning how to deal with a soggy morning outdoors, they are all skills you learn on your overnights. They teach a love for the outdoors and how to keep yourself safe and happy outdoors while also making sure not to damage the environment you came out to enjoy.
Now, that’s not to say that if you haven’t been coming since your Explorer year you’ll be left behind, it only just means that each year you come back you get to experience a little bit bigger of an adventure, as if just living on an island in a tipi wasn’t enough.
Until the next post!
Scott Minard, Photographer