The First Backpack

wpdev26 Jun, 2016

A quick update from instructor Jenna…

Yesterday, we hiked to the top of Looking Glass where some students hiked the most they ever had in one day. Calian said it was a picture-perfect day, and Jason said the scenery was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. We then returned and prepared for our backpack and had some free time with ball and rope games. During dinner, one cooking group decided to catch sugar snap peas—Sam claims 20 were caught, and they are going for more next time. We relaxed at night while Nate played guitar for us and facilitated a game of Mafia before bed. Tess says it was an exhausting yet beautiful and exciting day.
We are now off to our backpack in Panthertown Valley!

And now a few words from Dock…

Everyone is eager to begin their first backpack. The Blue Ridge Explorer 1 team is essentially out of communication (instructors can reach our directors in an emergency), and this is a good thing. The focus for the next few days is building a community, having fun, witnessing incredible scenery, and learning and improving outdoor skills.

Before the first backpack, we break our community into three smaller groups as they prepare. This group experience solidifies friendships and builds confidence as the students face appropriate challenges in the outdoors. While hiking with a pack is not always easy, we embellish this section with games and conversations, helping students build resiliency in a group of supportive peers. We make the camping aspect of the trip so fun that they come home with a new appreciation of how enjoyable backpacking can be.

By the end of the trip, we hope their trip community will begin to feel like a second family. We hope that after the “hardship” of backpacking and carrying everything they need for three days on their shoulders, a return to a front country campsite where they are reunited with their duffel bag, take a hot shower, and meet back with the big group almost feels like returning to a second home. This is the perfect time to build substantive relationships with their instructors and form the foundation for true friendships with their peers.

We look forward to checking in after the first backpack!

– Dock


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