On June 15, two vans packed with excited campers, staff and gear left the Old Stone House and headed west to Highlands Presbyterian Camp near Rocky Mountain National Park. Fifteen campers would spend the next week hiking, rafting, exploring nature, birding and much more as part of RMBO’s Taking Flight camp for 12- to 14-year-olds.
Campers with a wide range of birding skills walked in the door for registration on Sunday morning, but relative ability did not stop them from bonding through ice breakers and backseat quizzing of bird calls on the drive up to the mountains. Regardless of their birding ability, campers demonstrated an impressive amount of enthusiasm and passion for the natural world throughout their entire week at camp. It was obvious when they heard and saw a Wilson’s Warbler for the first time during a point count. It was clear when they were measuring water flow rate and looking for macro-invertebrates as part of a day researching and hypothesizing the ideal habitat components for the American Dipper. It was palpable when they discovered the transition of life zones – and the bird species that accompanied them – while on a hike toward Chasm Lake at the base of Long’s Peak.
In the safe environment of camp, these experiences created an ideal setting for self-exploration and transformation to occur. As a result, the campers grew so much over their short but impactful time at camp – so much knowledge gained, so much passion discovered, and so many friends made. It was satisfying to witness their faces when they realized that they had gone six days without the use of technology; when they spotted and identified a bird for the first time all on their own; when they came back, so full of awe, from their first ever solo hike.
I am working as an Education Assistant at RMBO this summer, and it is these moments that I have always cherished in being a camp counselor. But this year, the Taking Flight campers have given me even more. They have given me hope that our children are not driven and held captive by technology. They have made me realize that they are also enthralled with the same things that guide my life. They, too, are swept away by the wonders of the natural world.
~ Hannah Haas, Summer Education Assistant