I’m back in Oregon after spending time with the Blue Ridge students in NC. It’s a very busy last week of Adventure Treks. 13 trips have finished and 9 are still out there going strong. making the most of every remaining minute at Adventure Treks. Every student on the Pac NW Experience 2 summited Mt Shasta today matching the 100% set on Mt Shasta by Cal Challenge 3 a few days ago. We are very happy for them. these are the days that forge life long friendships!
When I speak to a group at final “plus delta” as I am doing every night this week, I like to celebrate our students many successes. The most important point I make, however, is imploring them to stay in touch with the great friends they have made on their trip. I am firmly convinced that friends made at “camp” are the best friends you can make. They have been tested through adversity, challenge and shared responsibility. This is personal for me.
As I look back over 51 years, I have been blessed with great friends from all phases of life. My best friends however remain my friends from my boyhood at camp. Friends I camped with, paddled rivers with and jumped off cliffs with 35 years ago.
We try to get together at least once a year. This February, as I surveyed our group of ten skiing at Alta, I was impressed at the level of professional success of my camp friends; from a PHD scientist for NOAA, to a leading surgeon, to the director of Innovation for a Fortune 500 company, to a judge, to a CEO of the nation’s top solar energy company, they have all achieved “success.” I am definitely the slacker in the group.
More important than professional successes, these folks are successful in their personal lives. Everyone is healthy, in good physical condition, married, raising great kids, involved in their communities and…. happy!
Certainly many factors influenced their ability to succeed. At the top of the list is excellent parenting and a good education — everyone has achieved an advanced degree. The interesting thing is … each one of us would say that our most formative (and valuable) experiences were the multiple years we spent at camp. Not school, not sports, not extra-curricular activities.
Like your child did this summer, we learned, developed, and shared outdoor experiences that still bond us. We spent our summer outdoors. We spent our time in small groups, learned how to cook, gained a myriad of outdoor skills, learned personal organization and faced natural consequences. We acquired life skills; we learned to assess risk, to challenge ourselves, to work as a team, to make good decisions, and to look out for others. We learned when to lead and when to follow. Perhaps most importantly, we learned to be comfortable in the face of adversity, and learned to be resilient. These are things not generally taught in a classroom. We spent nights sleeping in the rain, not eating if we couldn’t get a fire going, and portaging our heavy canoes. We explored places that we believed others had never seen. We challenged ourselves and shared the joys of living in a tight community.
My vision for Adventure Treks has been to give others the same indelible experiences I gained through many 8 week summers at camp, but to package it with an intentionality that would facilitate the same results and skills, in much less time. The experience has to match the needs of today’s very busy families and shorter summers. I hope as the summer draws to a close, you and your child will be able to reflect back on his/her Adventure Treks experience and feel it had a tangible effect on positive personal development that will last long beyond the summer experience.
The life skills learned at camp were important, but the most valuable benefits from my camp experience are the friendships which are strong to this day.
Please encourage your child to keep in touch with the friends made on their adventure. I hope 30 years from now, your child will still be going on adventures with friends made at Adventure Treks.
It’s a privilege to get to know these amazing Adventure Treks kids. We LOVE our students! I hope you will be able to meet some of these great kids as well when they get together outside of Adventure Treks!