The Encampment Begins!

Summer camper navigates the ropes course at Camp Illahee.
The Beanstalk and High Ropes Course is a sure test of nerve!

There are several theories of child development that really interest me. One is that of “acceptable risk.” The idea is that a child’s healthy development through young adulthood relies to some extent on navigating the waters of risk and consequence. Teenagers are risk seekers, and many that they choose (as you know) can be unhealthy. They have serious and sometimes, life-altering consequences. So what happens if we can provide risky activities in a controlled setting? This may be somewhat of an oxymoron…is it really risky if you control it? I’m thinking of overcoming fear on the high ropes course, or getting up on a horse for a first time, kayaking down a class 3 river…allowing a camper to discover what an acceptable level of risk is.

Camp is the perfect venue for girls to test their mettle. I notice with some sadness the evolution of girls from elementary and early middle school as confident, sassy, “the world is my oyster” individuals to a little more “the world is beating me down” through middle and early high school. The good news is that they generally emerge as humans again toward the end of high school…at least ours did, and she had a serious case of “adolescence”! But, here’s the kicker…it is so important to have partners through these years who can mirror your perspective from a face that does not look like yours…I am so proud of our counselors who often give up other opportunities so that they can give back to a place that has meant so much to them.

So, the other thing that I think is so important to human development is getting out in the woods. I think we are wired that way. It may be a phobia for some, but there is something about the opportunity to sleep under the stars that feeds the soul. Tonight, Hillbrook has started our 3 night encampment at Kuykendall (pron. Kirk-n-doll), a beautiful group campsite in Pisgah National Forest, not fifteen minutes from camp. It is a mile down a gated dirt road with a huge grassy field, a gorgeous mountain stream, a fire ring, and a tent city. The youngest girls will eat burgers and dogs, make s’mores and sing around the campfire, and enjoy a night out that looks like it will be beautiful.

Our other girls will have cabin adventures…some will swim, tie dye t-shirts, make ice cream, cook s’mores, play games…lots of Big Boomin Fun. The weather has been almost fall-like…beautiful and crisp with sunny blue skies, and it has added to an already high level of spirit in camp. One of the best days of summer so far. Glad your camper is here to enjoy it.

One response to “The Encampment Begins!

  1. How wonderful that my stepdaughter Jax is already taking risks! We’ve seen several photos of her on the rope swing–something I’m not sure she would have tried at home. Kudos to Illahee for helping her feel safe enough to try it out!

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