This past Thursday, I was with my cabin on the high ropes course after a few days of team building and group activities. It was incredible to see dynamics and attitudes change as everyone came together in support of one another. Any small feuds fell by the wayside as complete connectedness transformed these six boys into one phenomenal family working together for one lofty yet attainable goal: to conquer these high ropes together. The idea of being over 30 feet in the air connected to only a few small ropes can make the biggest and strongest of men and women weak at the knees, let alone some 13, 14, and 15 year old boys. As is typical at camp, some campers will have done high ropes before and many find it fun, exhilarating, and even easy, but for others, especially those who have never climbed before, fear can grab hold of them and not let go.
One of the latter cases proved true to a boy in my cabin named Grant. Grant, an all-around calm, composed, and enthusiastic camper wouldn’t seem to be someone shaken by this typically fun activity, but when faced with the decision to continue climbing the pole up to the platform or to climb back down, Grant always froze before ultimately deciding that the ground was much more comfortable to stand on then the wind-shaken pole or platform he was trying to reach. By the time Grant made his 3rd attempt at climbing the platform, the other five boys in our cabin had already reached the platform and started climbing across some of the other elements, across wires, wood, rope, and PVC pipes. Determination was clear to see on Grant’s face, but so was the fear that had grasped him. Grant continued attempt after attempt while the other campers, facilitators, and myself cheered him on. Persistence and the will to continue welled up in Grant as he made his 8th attempt to climb the pole. By now, everyone was cheering him on and singing songs to distract him from the fear he was experiencing. As he began to climb he had new power in his legs and arms. He rushed past the halfway mark (his previous best) but stopped cold just a few steps up from the top of the platform where I had been the whole time, cheering him on. Grant was experiencing the proverbial “so close, yet so far away.” As I tried to distract him further I laid down on the platform and extended my hand. After much prompting and convincing, Grand extended his hand also and gave me what I can only describe as the most powerful high five I have ever experienced; not in the physical sense but in the will and determination behind it.
Shortly after this high five, Grant made the ultimate choice to climb down the pole and not make further attempts to do additional elements. Still a member of our new found family, Grant found the courage to climb a different pole directly to the zip line, the end of the ropes course. Full of strength from himself and from his cabin family, Grant reached the top and did indeed zip line. Step -by-step Grant left his comfort zone and walked off a ledge to zip line a few hundred feet.
It is only in the endless supportive and connected community established in places like Sky Ranch that true strength, determination, and dedication can be revealed. These characteristics showed through not only in Grant but the entire cabin and camp community as well and are , to date, one of the most powerful moments and feelings that I have experienced in outdoor ministries. It is because of this that I am always excited to a new day and further opportunity for unattainable dreams to become achieved realities.