Here at the Outdoor Academy we spend a good amount of time outside, who would have guessed? We backpack through the forests of the Appalachian Mountains, climb to the top of steep rock faces, and paddle canoes down flowing white water. Being outside all the time means being exposed to the elements, so what does that mean for our students when the weather turns sour? Students have to learn what it means to have tolerance for adversity and uncertainty. This means knowing that the unexpected can happen and how you are able to face that challenge.
During our outdoor programming students have to learn new skills such as knot-tying, backcountry cooking, paddling white water, climbing on slabby rock, and many other skills. When the weather takes a quick turn from sunny and 80 to thunderstorms and water pouring down from above, learning and practicing these skills becomes even more challenging. Students need to learn quickly to storm-proof their camps, waterproof their packs, and how to keep themselves dry and comfortable.
Our second paddle/climb weekend proved to be a great test of the students ability to make the best out of a rainy day in the woods. Our climbers that weekend unfortunately received a light rain throughout the entire weekend. While this did not make it difficult to stay comfortable and dry during the day, the challenge came in the form of wet rock faces. Unfortunately for the students, climbing in Pisgah is almost impossible when the rock is wet. So how did these students face this challenge?
We spent our entire Saturday hiking all over Cedar Rock looking for dry rock to hopefully climb on. Hiking up and down rock faces can be tiring but the students kept themselves busy, productive, and upbeat throughout the day. Anna helped many of the students learn and practice their Spanish speaking and many of the students spoke predominantly in Spanish through the rest of the day. Students learned to trust their hands and feet as they used a handline to walk up slick rock with a handline rope and later learned how to rappel down Coffee Break Ledge on Cedar Rock. Anton discussed the intricacies of the plot of Ninjago, James and Dinah made a question game about our perfect matches, students learned how to make a fire from wet wood, and everyone enjoyed sharing songs and ‘alternative facts’ around a fire.
Waking up to another misty day on Sunday, the students proceeded to make breakfast and pack up their campsite. They were given a multitude of options in terms of how they wanted to spend their day, since the rock was unclimbable. Ultimately they chose to take a hike up to the top of Looking Glass Rock in hopes of getting above the mist for a view of the mountains while we ate lunch. We made it to the top, made lunches, and enjoyed the view of the cloud we’d been hiking all day before making our descent and heading home.
While the climbing may have been lacking on our climbing trip, the students stayed positive and found ways to have fun and enjoy their time adventuring in the woods. Students were able to exemplify tolerance for adversity and uncertainty by making the most of a rainy day when it changed our plans completely. Anton said it best at the end of our trip when he exclaimed, “The real climbing trip was the friends we made along the way!”
By Jake Milligan