There is a good deal of hand-wringing these days about the sad condition of our nation’s children. “Flabby couch potatoes! Pale, pasty, computer-game addicts!” Yet I’m pleased to report that the Waldorf School eighth grade, to a student, demonstrated exceptional fitness, enthusiasm, and courage during their camping retreat at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in Virginia. Here are their perceptions of their experience:
ALEXANDER: The high ropes consisted of three challenges. The first was the easiest, a swinging bridge walk that was fun but less difficult than the last challenge, a tightrope walk. That was a little freaky, with nothing to balance on. My favorite was the middle challenge, the “tree.” Wearing harnesses, we had to climb up by staples at least 4 feet apart, get up onto a small platform about 30 feet off the ground, and jump off. The reality was great, and I felt good about doing it.
EMMA: Although we had gone canoeing almost every camping trip, I still looked forward to skimming across the water, navigating around rocks, and seeing all the wildlife. We drove in the bus to where we were going to start our journey down Craig’s Creek back to the campsite. I was partnered with Amanda in the canoe. With her in front powering the canoe, and me in the back steering it, we traveled quickly. We kept a steady pace, taking a few stops to swim and cool off in the river. Many birds flew overhead as we paddled. We also watched as cows grazed on the banks or waded in the river. I think we all enjoyed canoeing, and if given the chance, would do it again.
NICHOLAS: Kayaking was a unique experience. Although we were just in their pond, we learned three different ways of getting above water from a flipped kayak. Our instructors were very patient and experienced. After we knew the basics of how to rescue ourselves, we played kayak games for the rest of the lesson. It was a fascinating experience and something I would do again.
JACK: My favorite part of our trip was mountain biking. Even though I do a lot of biking, this was a new experience for me. Mountain biking is very different than flat roads or even going up steep paved roads. It involves going up hills, riding over logs, swerving around puddles and holes, changing gears, going fast, and having a lot of fun.
AMANDA: On the natural water slide –
Farewell to Roaring Run,
To flowing, rushing, roaring falls
Cascading over rock and moss
And into murky pools below.
Farewell to cascading, icy coolness,
While copperheads basked on the sunny banks,
And we slid down, down, into the darkness below,
To resurface to camera shots and aching flanks.
RACHAEL D.: As one activity, we went caving at Ford Island Cave. Although we had gone to Luray Caverns and Crystal Grottos in past years, this was not the same. Instead of strolling along carved-out pathways lit by electricity, we crawled through narrow passageways and muddy rock. It was dark, illuminated faintly by headlamps. We followed our knowledgeable guide, Nick, inching along through passages where the rocks pressed in from both sides. At one point we had to straddle a small creek, shuffling our feet along ridges on either side. In another place we stopped to slide on our stomachs through a horseshoe-shaped tunnel. We stopped again to turn out all the headlamps and experience pure darkness. Whispering back and forth, we passed messages about the locations of holes, slides, and hidden outcroppings. At the end we had to spot each other as we slid down a treacherous slope. The caving was a completely new experience and quite possibly my favorite. Thank you to Nick, Kyle, and Abby for guiding us through the caverns. I wish that everyone could enjoy the same adventures we did on our trip.
RACHAEL S.: For the whole trip and a little while before it I was looking forward to the rock climbing. I was determined to get up the wall, especially when I heard that only one person from the last group had made it up. When I saw the cliff I was very excited. Even with my bruised and scraped-up left knee, I thought I could make it. The rocks and cracks were easy enough to hold on to. The wall was medium in difficulty.
OWEN: I am walking up the footpath to the zipline. My foot slips on a loose rock. I stumble but don’t fall. With regained balance I continue my journey, carrying my full-body harness. Carefully I step over exposed roots and pointy rocks. The zipline buzzes as Amanda zips down, screaming. It occurs to me that I don’t recall ever hearing Amanda scream before. This is unsettling, but I continue on. Bit by bit the path climbs the hill. Back and forth it winds. Then through the trees I see the loft. Up I climb the ladder to the first landing. Sean, the instructor, makes sure the harness is on correctly. In front of me Emma is attached securely to the zipline and then is off on a wild ride. I step into the second landing when the bell rings. With practiced ease Fain attaches my harness to the zipline. Fain tightens the zipline and counts down from three. As the zipline tightens I am lifted off my feet, and then I’m in the air, free as a bird … the wind tears at my face, and as I fly past the rest of the group, “I REGRET NOTHING!!”
BRINTON: The food was amazing! It was so much better than I expected. We ate fish filets, fish sticks, pizza, tacos, mac and cheese, eggs and pancakes or French toast, and bacon. There was a salad with every lunch and dinner. There was also always cold water and lemonade. Sometimes other juices were available. Everybody loved the food. It was one of the best parts of the trip. I highly recommend this camp.
I would like to add three more highlights of the trip. One was witnessing the children confront their fears. Some didn’t like heights, and many were nervous about escaping from a capsized kayak, but they all gritted their teeth and stepped forward. Another highlight was seeing the children come together so well in their free time, whether playing cards or volleyball, or just chatting and laughing together. The final highlight was watching Mrs. Friedman in action. She tackled every challenge at least once, with a youthful gusto that was inspiring. To quote a line above, “I wish that everyone could enjoy the same adventures that we did.”
Written by 8th Grade Class Teacher, Nina Jones.