The energy around camp is palpable today. It feels like a fall football Saturday in the SEC. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Clouds rolled in this morning about 10 and have been with us all day. This afternoon a cool breeze began blowing through camp. It is noticeably cooler and everyone has a pep in their step. It’s so dry that a few brown and orange leaves have been blowing off the trees so it actually does look like fall in spots. We got some rain this morning! Not a ton but enough to knock the dust down and freshen up camp a bit. Hoping for some more tonight.
The good news is the rain really didn’t disrupt our day. We missed part of our 2nd morning period due to a brief interlude of thunder and heavier rain. Everything else pretty much ran as usual.
Our biggest news of the day is the departure of our 2nd Year Chief trip this morning. Our 18 rising 10th graders and their counselors eagerly loaded up the bus this morning heading towards Franklin, NC. They will hike the Appalachian Trail in three groups over the next 3 days. This is a pinnacle experience for this group of last year campers.
Higher Ground guide service out of Rome, GA leads the trip. Higher Ground is run by Nathan Hicks. He personally leads one of the trips and his other staff are always excellent. Nathan has become a good friend during the last few years we have worked together. He and his staff see eye to eye with our mission. They combine professionalism with a personable feel.
So yesterday they arrived in the afternoon to prep the boys. Tent setup, gear packing, etc filled their afternoon. Some of these guys have hiked before, many have not. It’s an exhilarating experience to pack everything you’ll need for several days in one pack and carry it on your back. For me as a camper it sparked a great love of being outdoors. And a great sense of independence and confidence. I was privileged enough to be able to help lead several of these trips when I returned as an Alpine counselor in college.
This term’s 2nd year Chief staff is stellar. Walt Wepfer is entering his senior year at Vanderbilt University. He’s a quiet, strong leader that boys instantly respect and want to emulate. He played football at Vandy his first couple years. Ryan Ray hails from Nashville, TN, a junior and a Tennessee Volunteer. He is a kind, personable counselor who has great wisdom for his age. Stephen Hayes is Mississippi State Bulldog, entering his junior year. As a veteran counselor the guys have known him for two years and really look up to him. He too is wise beyond his years. William Mason is a junior at the University of Alabama. He has a funny and cool wit that these boys love. He loves music and these guys love hanging and talking tunes. All four of these guys are involved on their campuses with a ministry called Reformed University Fellowship. This ministry does a wonderful job of encouraging guys to serve in many capacities on campus, with humility and concern for all. And they encourage guys that as Christians they should be achieving and working hard to be exemplary in whatever major and other interests they are pursuing, to the glory of God. We agree with this world view and these are the types of guys we want working with our campers. Guys that will go on to be wonderful husbands and fathers, as well as leaders in their fields, whether it be medicine, law, business, education.
So, this morning Chief 2’s and these counselors walked their gear to the bus, loaded up on French toast and bacon, and set off to the Mountains of North Carolina. They’ll walk and laugh, tell stories. They’ll be tired at points and get down sometimes. That’s when a buddy encourages you to push on. And later you’ll do the same for him. By Thursday morning they will have covered about 25 miles, a solid but not overwhelming challenge.
And then they get to jump into the cold, clean waters of the Nantahala River Friday morning. They will appreciate that cold water more than any water before I bet, coming off 4 days with no shower and a hot pack on your back. They are rafting the Nantahala in duckies, or inflatable kayaks. One of my favorite times is greeting them as they come off the bus after the return trip. They are tired but enthusiastic to tell their tales of adventure. I’ll see if I can get a story or two to share with you.
As for us here in camp it was a day filled with fun activities, progressing into more skills and competition. I’ll try to highlight more activities here, as well as staff as the week continues. Thanks for reading and good night for now . . .