A Follow Up to “Facing Challenges”
This summer my daughter Posey participated in her first Hante. As we prepared for her adventure in the spring, I took some time share my thoughts on why I thought Hante was an important opportunity for her to take in the summer between transitioning from middle to high school. Posey was really nervous about going on Hante, but her dad and I encouraged her to give it a try. I knew that on Hante she would encounter challenges –carrying a heavy backpack for many miles, managing group dynamics, setting up camp at the end of a long day of hiking, making the most of a burned meal, inclement weather, etc. We knew that it would be really tough at times, but so is high school, and life for that matter. It believe it’s important to teach children about taking on healthy risks and challenges, and to help them be resourceful and resilient. I knew that the challenges that she would face on Trek were not insurmountable. I knew that they would strengthen her character and build her confidence, which would help her as she starts to navigate the challenges of high school.
As expected, AT Trek was a challenge. On the opening day after check in Posey asked me “what do I do now.” After many years of attending camp, she was suddenly out of her comfort zone (much like she would be on her first day of high school after years of attending the same small school since kindergarten). I pointed her in the direction of the Sun Lodge and she nervously made her way up the hill. I didn’t see her again until she and the rest of the AT group hiked through the Dining Hall, packs on their back, ready to hit the trail. She was smiling and laughing along with the rest of the crew. I smiled as I thought about the experience ahead of her.
A few days later the Trek leaders called to check in and let us know how they were doing. After I’d received the group up-date I asked “How’s Posey?” Her instructor responded that she was doing well, but that she had had a difficult day. The group had had a 13-mile day, which is very difficult, and Posey had shed some tears. I was a little surprised to hear it (Posey is pretty tough), but I wasn’t worried. I knew that she’d get stronger, that she’d learn to power on, and that she would start to find her groove. And sure enough, she did. Two weeks later, I watched a happy, healthy, dirty daughter march back through Eagle’s Nest with her new best friends. She was laughing and holding their hands; she barely glanced at me.
When I got a chance to ask Posey about Trek she said “It was good. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” which is high praise from Posey. She went on to talk about how great her group was (she still stays in close contact with many of them). The stories started tumbling out, and she told each with a smile and a laugh, even the ones that were clearly connected to days that were challenging in some way.
A month ago Posey started high school. She rides her bike to school everyday, and has joined the Cross Country team even though she’s never been a runner and has to rush from Cross Country practice to her club soccer practice. She laughs about still not really knowing her way around school. I see that she’s trying new things, and that she has the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and take on new healthy risks. Just I thought it would, I see that her experiences on Hante have helped her in her first month of high school. This summer, Posey faced the mountain (actual and metaphorical) and summited it. She grew, and she had had a blissful experience doing it. Posey is already looking forward to participated in Hante Pacific Northwest next summer. I can’t wait to see what challenges and successes it will bring!
Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director