We witness campers courageously taking leaps each day at ALC as they dare to try something new or to add to their knowledge and understanding in activities and in their tents. Each camper pushes herself outside of her comfort zone in various ways throughout her summer at ALC. Sometimes a camper experiences the joy of success, and sometimes, she learns that she needs more practice to find that elusive moment of success. We believe that these challenging moments - when campers have to take a deep breath and figure out how to improve the next time - are one of the most important life skills that ALCers learn each summer.
The “Leap of Faith” element on our high ropes course is an obvious illustration of this idea. Campers climb up a tree to a platform, and then have to muster the courage to jump off of this platform and grab a swinging bar (all while in a harness that is attached to a belay system). Sometimes the camper succeeds and grabs that bar, but oftentimes, the camper doesn’t reach it, and is lowered back to the ground by the belaying counselor. Through the entire experience, she has fellow campers and counselors cheering her on. Does she arrive on the ground wishing she had reached the bar? Of course! Does she regroup and talk with the counselors and other campers to figure out how to improve as she tries again? Absolutely. Even if she doesn’t get that bar during that activity period - or maybe all summer - she walks away from our adventure course knowing that she CAN accept challenges, she CAN find courage deep within to push herself, and she has the support of her peers and counselors whether she succeeds or fails. As her confidence develops, she may just surprise herself with how much she has learned and how much her skills have grown.
These leaps take place all over camp every day. As part of their training, our counselors learn to help each individual camper push herself to a new level of understanding in activities, in their friendships, and in living together in a small community. Our counselors are able to differentiate the teaching in their activities so they can provide each camper with the support she needs to grow. As a staff, we are aware that each camper’s needs and desires are unique and that growth is different for each person. Truly, our counselors are belaying campers throughout each day - supporting each camper while also giving her the room to grow and stretch on her own.