R.O.C.K. Kids Experience the 23rd Annual Lil’ Kid Camp

R.O.C.K. Kids Experience the 23rd Annual Lil’ Kid Camp
By Jenna Watanabe, Marketing and Development Coordinator

Nicole, a fifth grader who was notoriously quiet and shy at school, was climbing a R.O.C.K. wall nestled in the outdoor playground of Mountain Camp. As she neared the toughest part–known as the crux–her hand slipped and she told her belayer below that she might have to stop. She wasn’t sure if she could make it.

Suddenly, with a burst of courage, she shouted, “Wait! I think I can do it!” and just like that, Nicole swooped her left leg around the protruding part of the wall that was daring her to give up–and hoisted herself up to the next hold with such a force that she propelled her way to the top.

“You did it! You reached the top!” The onlookers below cheered her on, and the “GRL PWR” design on the back of her hoodie seemed to sparkle as much as her eyes. She did it!

This was just one example of resilience we witness in our kids up at Mountain Camp. We saw it in 10-year old Zahary, who put her trust in the harness of a zipline for a thrilling ride through the tops of conifers. We saw it in our third grade boys, who tried mountain biking for the first time and swapped a fear of the bumpy, winding trail into a need for speed.

The camp’s tree-lined world is a stark contrast to the busy roads and chain link fences the kids are familiar with. Playing outside has a whole new meaning, as it’s the first time they feel comfortable running around to get their energy out without worrying about urban obstacles, like traffic, private property or safety hazards.

Instead, they get to enjoy an array of activities with their cabin group and two camp leaders, choosing from activities that include a ropes course, zip-lining, archery, fencing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, arts & crafts, and so much more. It’s through these playful activities that each group forms their own special bond that teaches the value of teamwork and importance of trust.

And of course, we can’t forget the camaraderie, as the kids encouraged each other with positive words in every challenging situation along the way. This is particularly important since every year there are several wide-eyed newbies among the bunch who have no idea what to expect. Sometimes they arrive with a mix of anxiety because it’s their first time sleeping away from home or because it’s their first time being in the great outdoors. But within hours of getting to camp, the 3rd and 4th graders fall into mentoring role for the 1st and 2nd graders, setting a good example for those experiencing a the same mix of anxiety they felt just a few years ago.

It may sound like a cliche to say we had the best time at camp–but we really did have the BEST time at camp. And I have a feeling it gets better and better every year. On a personal level, I must say it was the most inspirational camping trip I’ve ever been on–and I’ve been camping dozens of times–because this time, it was about these young kids. It was being a part of their process as they find their footing, develop courage and build memories they would carry with them for life. Bearing witness to that transformation was nothing short of amazing.

If you’re even thinking about joining us–make it happen. I promise it will be one of the best parts of your summer.

Want to see highlights from this year’s Lil’ Kid Camp? Check out this video.

Want to make a kids’ summer? Join us next year at camp! Not only will we provide you with delicious food, lodging and transportation, we promise you will have an awesome time! Email jenna@rocksf.org today to sign up.