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100 Elk: Home to Challenges and Adventure, but Not Trees

         It was madness. It was chaos. It was a school parking lot. The bus’s wheels screeched to a halt. Teachers fruitlessly tried to corral students, while children tried to put their bags in the cargo hold first. When at last we entered the bus, the upholstered seats looked like a gift from heaven. When all were seated, the bus took off for our middle school outdoor education trip to Buena Vista. Looking out the window, I realized how much higher up I was than I am when I ride in a Toyota 4Runner to school. The bus twisted up through a smorgasbord of greenery. As the bus trip progressed, I noticed how the shades of green started becoming more and more brown. When at last we got to our destination, it looked more like we were camping in the desert than in the mountains.
               “Ugh, I hate this place.” said my friend. Although the scenery was equal to that of a desert in Western Sahara, I wasn’t ready to call the field trip a bust yet. As soon as we unloaded, the bus rolled off. I may have imagined it, but he seemed a little eager to leave. The camp director, who I later learned was named Steve, directed everyone to their cabins. As I trudged along the road, I was repeatedly shoved aside. When I finally got into my cabin, I claimed the first bunk. I stowed my gear under my bed, hurriedly threw my sleeping bag onto my bed, and dashed out the door.
                Then, the fun really began. First, we headed down to the rock climbing gym to play some games, including Sharks and Minnows. After that, we had archery, which was also pretty fun. We began the next day with canoeing. We would each climb into a canoe with a partner, then paddle. After getting used to paddling in general, we started on a race. Everyone got in a (more or less) straight line. When the instructor said the word, we all began on the race. My partner and I were in front for most of the race, but at about halfway, we had another team gaining on our right flank. With no other option, I stabbed my paddle into the murky waters. “Jonah, what are you doing?” my partner stopped as we swung into the other boat. It crashed into the bank. I continued paddling, but my partner began trying to tip us the other way. In my haste to get us to the finish line, I accidently ran him into a bunch of branches overhanging the waters.
              Afterwards, we headed down to the ropes course. The instructor began to talk about facing your fears.  He said there are green yellow, and red zones.  A green zone is when someone is comfortable, a yellow zone slightly uncomfortable, and the red zone where someone is too distressed to learn anything.  I timidly climbed a telephone pole up to the starting platform inside my yellow zone. After several minutes of not moving, I climbed back down. I saw a giant cargo net, and before I knew it, I was drawn. I climbed up on a mountain scape in my own mind. Hand over hand, the ropes began to cut at my hands. I dared not look down, fearing I would scare. As I reached for the next rope, I caught nothing but wood. Wood? I looked up. I made it? I climbed over and looked down upon the world. I didn’t realize that I would soon be looking down again, so I took in the entirety of it all. When I began the descent, I grew more scared than I had been on the way up.
              On Friday, we got up and did what was called “Leap and Ladder.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. “Leap” is short for “Leap of Faith”. On the Leap of Faith, a person would jump from a platform and be caught by a rope. On the Ladder, or Giant’s Ladder, you would climb up comically oversized ladder rungs, each one farther apart than the last. It was fashioned as a giant rope ladder so each little movement I made threatened to throw me off but I got higher than my P.E. teacher.
               I would say that anyone who is considering going to summer camp should go here, or at least consider it, as it helped me learn how to deal with fear, so it might do the same for you.