As CEO of the American Camp Association, I had the opportunity to see many camp programs in action all over the world. In these interactions, I had the amazing chance to speak with countless camp alumni and learn what their summer camp experience meant to them. In those conversations, I often met individuals who shared with me that the single greatest thing that they ever did in life was attend their camp.
Hearing these comments, I was always torn by how I should feel about such statements. On the one hand, I loved hearing that their summer camp experience meant so much to them. On the other hand, I was saddened to hear that the rest of their life did not include more fantastic experiences like the ones at camp.
I always was thrown off by these comments, because, my camp experience with Wilderness Adventures taught me something different. My leaders carefully instructed me to strive for more, to realize what I had done and to go make that magic again. Consequently, today, we continue to strive for these things at WA. You see, while we love that our students walk away feeling that they had the greatest experience of their life, what is more important is that this experience serves as a launch pad for other fantastic experiences for years to come.
We talk of the mountain often on our program, and each day ends with singing our song, ‘O Brave Mountain.’ In the song, there is reverence given to that pinnacle moment: the one where you are on top of the world. But, we at WA love the mountain so much because, at its peak, at the height of excitement that marks ‘the top,’ you have the ability to see other peaks in the distance– other mountains to climb, other peaks to attain. Here, we talk of our peak as one stop on the journey of many peaks and valleys, and we work to make sure our participants know that they made this pinnacle themselves.
So now, you WA 2016 alumni, our hope is that you take this experience with you and build off it. Hold it close to you as you take on the challenges of the school year and the years ahead. When the going gets tough, as I am sure you felt on the trail with us, think back on your time with WA and know that you can make it to the top. Set the next peak you are striving for and go get it! Use this as a launch pad for your life, where you will continue to set new goals and achieve new heights.
And when asked years down the road what this experience meant to you, it is my sincere hope that you share that it was not the pinnacle of your life but the launch pad to many of the pinnacles that we know you can, and will, achieve. That is the Wilderness Adventures way. Have a wonderful year working your way to the top of the next peak. We look forward to seeing you back for another adventure in 2017!