Navigating Our Way (Sessions 3 & 4, July 5)

By Sandy Schenck

One of the things camp people love about camp is that while it appears to be all fun and games, campers are really learning some meaningful “life-skills,” like responsibility, commitment, and how to make good choices.  Here at the GRP, we make a conscious effort to integrate “thought-provoking” into a lot of our activities—and thought-provoking plays out in some different ways.  On mentor hikes this morning, one group of campers went south of Green River Road, looking for the Pine Barrens (a stand of white pines) and the Native American burial mound.  They found the Pine Barrens, but not the burial mound, but they were okay with that; along the way, they practiced navigational skills—using a compass, how to set your bearings, and how to read a topographical map.  Another group set out into DuPont State Forest; they started off on a trail, but they soon left it to bushwhack and to use a map and compass to find their way back to Base Camp.  Along the way, they discovered a new waterfall, which they named Serendipity Falls!  They also saw a box turtle and “jack-in-the-pulpit,” a plant that grows in the area.  Some campers visited our Reasonover Road site, where our Blue Ridge Expeditions makes its base camp; our Expeditioners are away from their base camp right now, so we missed seeing them, but campers and staff had fun bushwhacking their way to the bog that’s close to the site.  They found a feather that they identified as a woodpecker’s—black with white dots all over it.  They got philosophical, too, talking about life itself as an expedition.  Another group headed up to Peggy’s Rock, where they enjoyed the fabulous view—especially on a day as sunny as today—of the Green River Valley and entertained an ethical debate of their own—what would you do if a club you had joined decided to adopt a policy that you didn’t agree with?  We appreciate nature; we also appreciate thoughtfulness, and we try to provide an environment that fosters it.

Activities, too, are a perfect setting for campers to build character traits like commitment.  After lunch—cheese quesadillas, rice and beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, salad bar, and peaches—and rest hour, archers- and marksmen-in-training went to the archery and BB Skeet ranges.  Usually, staff and campers see progress from the first to the second day of the activity in terms of how well they’re shooting; seeing that progress helps teach perseverance.  Today we had several campers hit the “dream shot”!  Whether or not they hit it, archery and BB Skeet are camp favorites; in one camper’s words, about archery, “I just love it!”   At the climbing tower, campers were climbing to the top—or however high they were comfortable with.  They also had the opportunity to try ascending the rope—climbing up the climbing rope itself; two campers were able to make it all the way to the top.  That’s pretty hard—it takes a lot of strength—and dedication.  Other campers were fly-fishing—or, as Sandy Schenck, founder of the Green River Preserve, calls it, studying “aquatic theology.”  In creative writing, campers started off with a warm-up exercise—word association.  Then they tried writing villanelles—a 19-line long poem with a particular rhyme scheme.  Camp is a terrific place to learn new outlets for creativity!

For tonight’s evening program, we welcomed the “Ort-goblins,” who visit about once a session to play for our Appalachian Shindig.  We were all do-si-do’ing, and alamancing left, and gypsying right.  Contra-dancing:  thought-provoking, maybe; FUN—definitely!!

You’ll find pictures from today’s activities, philosophical and otherwise, here.