It has been a wonderful couple months for Wilderness Kids Alexandria in this, our first ever, summer of programming. This summer, our students explored new places, faced new challenges, reached new achievements, made new friends, and became a bit more comfortable in the great outdoors.
Here is installment 2 of our Summer Recap.
On July 19th we set out on our second Summer Peak Experience with eight campers. This time we headed to the beautiful George Washington National Forest to camp at Sherando Lake.
As we set up camp we suddenly heard (and saw!) the rain coming over the mountain towards us. We dashed to set up our tent-flys, and then resigned ourselves to getting wet in the rain. Some napped in their tents, while others took shelter under the bathroom awning and played ice-breaker games. Eventually the rain let up, and we went for a nature walk around the upper lake. We found dozens of salamanders, and then stopped at a rocky beach to skip stones.
The next morning we were all much drier, and started the day with a 1-mile hike around the lower lake, where we saw a man made waterfall, beautiful misty morning views of the lake, and even a water snake sunning itself.
We then hopped over to Raven’s Roost to rock climb with the experts from the Blue Ridge Mountain Guides. Many thanks to them for their teaching! Campers overcame their trepidation and were soon racing up the rock face, even timing their ascents. Two campers even learned how to belay, holding the lines as one of our trip leaders, Sean, climbed.
It was time to cool off after climbing, and the lake was the perfect place to do so. We played frisbee, swam out to an island, and took cannon balls off of rocks. Mud holes and mermaid tails were constructed on the sandy beach.
We scarfed down a dinner of burritos and watermelon, taking time to reflect on the trip, the park, and the indigenous peoples who protected the land for generations. This conversation of gratitude led to the campers making cinnamon rolls as a thank you to a Boy Scout troop camping next to us, who had given us glow sticks the night before. We enjoyed spectacular stargazing before bed.
On our final day we visited the UVA campus, exploring the rotunda and talking about its history. And of course, no camping trip is complete without an ice cream stop on the way home.
On this trip campers continued to grow their confidence in outdoor spaces, and challenged their comfort levels to try new experiences in new environments.