Jul 01, 2019

Posted by: Emily Reilly

Different Tracks, One Community

Each session at camp gives its campers a truly unique experience. Session one is two weeks long, a shorter session for those who want just a taste of camp. Session three is two and a half weeks, perfect for the kids who are craving even more time at camp (and who likely have been missing it the first few weeks of summer). Session two, right in the middle, is especially different – this is the session with the track system.

In the first and third sessions, campers (with the exception of campers in programs like EQ) travel around to the classic camp activities with groups of their same age. This is, of course, an amazing experience for many, giving the campers a well-rounded summer filled with many new experiences and interactions with all kinds of people. Some other campers come with something more specific in mind, looking forward to the drama and art activities, or excited for high ropes and mountain biking. These are the campers for whom the track system was created.

Every morning after breakfast, campers gather in the commons to split into their activity groups. Unlike the other sessions, these groups are not limited by age. Instead, campers join up with others in the same track, getting the opportunity to interact with people of all ages and genders. Once they’ve joined their groups, the day kicks off, each track nearly bursting with excitement for the specialized activities ahead of them.

First is Beginner Horsemanship. The EQ, or Equestrian, program has been an integral part of camp for years, offered for older campers every session. The Beginner Horsemanship program acts as an intro to EQ, giving younger kids who otherwise would participate in the ranch program the opportunity to work closely with horses, gaining skills and knowledge that will come in handy for their later participation in the EQ program. Decked out in boots and helmets, the Beginner Horsemanship kids can usually be found in the corral, saddling horses or learning to trot while bonding with both the horses and each other under the bright Colorado sky.

The kids in the Outdoor Adventure track share a similar desire to surround themselves in the natural world. Each day holds a new surprise in store. Hikes in the Outer 400 imbue a sense of awe as campers learn about the kind of flora and fauna present at camp and engage in nature hands-on. Mountain bike rides offer a similar ambiance, with the added rush of excitement and a new vantage point. Other times, the Outdoor Adventure group learns about the different knots and belaying techniques used at the ropes course or how to feed the animals in Teva. No matter what they’re doing that day, the name of the track holds true – every activity is an adventure.

For those more athletically inclined is the Sports track. Spending time on the bright green turf of Niven Field or in the cool clear water of the pool, the campers in the Sports track keep themselves active. These activities go above and beyond what regular activities like court sports or field sports offers. The campers throw their enthusiasm into learning the ins and outs of specific sports, working on their footwork in soccer, accuracy in basketball, or strokes in swimming. Through the activities, team bonding is more than natural, and campers leave the field each day with an even stronger sense of community and the knowledge that their camp friends always have their back.

But camp isn’t exclusive to outdoorsy or athletic individuals. One of the most anticipated tracks of the summer is the Arts and Culture track. Throughout the two and a half weeks, the campers in this track work towards a common goal: to put on a musical at the end of the session! Campers can audition for roles, but you don’t have to be onstage to be a star. Other campers in the track make the sets for the musical, and others design the costumes. Everyone’s passionate work culminates when the performance is put on for the rest of the camp, the perfect way to end the session.

The track system at camp is special to camp for so many reasons. The opportunity to focus on a passion is an obvious one, but another more subtle benefit is the impact the track system has on the community. With the opportunity to spend time with not only their own cabins, but campers from all over as well, both campers and staff alike come to share bonds with many people in the community. These bonds form a network that ties everyone together, and though the tracks may be different, there are many more similarities to share. The session has only been in for less than a week, but already, it’s obvious that the experiences they will have and the people they will meet in these next two and a half weeks will have a lasting impact on the lives of every camper.