Learning by Experience: An Adventure in Itself
By Sara Huffman
At GRP, we love adventure. It’s more or less our thing. We wake up in the mornings, eat breakfast (if you’ve ever eaten with seventy-plus children in one room, you’d know that’s an adventure in itself), and send the kids off on Mentor Hikes. In case you don’t know, Mentor Hikes are, if nothing else, adventures in the rawest sense of the word. Depending on the trail, campers get to learn about a plethora of diverse areas, like bogs, rivers, and even Pine barrens, all of which have their own unique ecosystems. Sometimes they even find cool plants they can eat, such as Sourwood, Greenbrier, or Sassafras. Some of the harder hikes, geared more towards the older campers, incorporate elements of teamwork and teambuilding, such as the Spire hike (you should totally ask your kids about it when you get the chance).
Once the morning’s adventure is over, campers are given time to recuperate with lunch and Rest Hour (also a great time for staffers to recuperate). Following that, camp flows on into activities, or on a day like today, GLPs, or Group Learning Projects. Group Learning Projects are basically day-long activities that are more or less based around some kind of theme. For example, some of today’s GLPs included mountain biking through the Preserve, tubing on the Davidson River, canoeing, and making music based on sounds found in nature. Like the flora around GRP, GLPs are quite diverse. Oftentimes, campers will learn more on a GLP day than they have on any other given day, especially if the GLP is something like Hawk’s Hunger Games Olympics. In that GLP, campers learn numerous outdoor living skills that appeal to their interest with a relevant theme (hopefully relevant to the campers’ interest and not the socio-political happenings of a post-apocalyptic world).
If campers are looking for something a little more adventurous, something filled with the unexpected (but not too much unexpected), there’s one GLP later in the session that takes a number of campers bushwhacking through the Preserve to find a number of unmapped locations of interest, such as the lost chimney. Another great GLP option is Born to Run, where interested campers are given the opportunity to run a half-marathon. Once GLPs are over for the day, another reprieve is had all around. We enjoy Free Time, dinner, a little bit of cabin time, and then bam! The adventure returns with a wicked cool Evening Activity. Tonight’s EP is especially exciting because it’s our first ever Renaissance Games. Tonight campers will get to play cool games, get some face paint, make swords and shield, and becomes kings, princesses, wizards, villains, or whatever their little camper hearts desire. If nothing else, it will definitely be an adventure.