Friday Night Lights – July 16, 2016

My old friend Doug Moe used to tell me some of his happiest days in coaching were as an assistant coach to Larry Brown when his most important job was to be loyal and say, “way to go, Larry.” I often think of Coach Moe because once Adam’s Camp is underway up here at Snow Mountain Ranch, my biggest and most important role is pretty similar – to support the directors, counselors, therapists and volunteers and tell them “way to go, team!”

The last night of Adam’s Camp, this year on Fridays, is always a highlight as I make the rounds to visit each therapy and adventure team to pat them on the back for a job well done, thank them for their incredible efforts and talk about their roller coaster ride of a week. There are several common topics: sleep deprivation, bathroom accidents, out-of-left-field comments from campers and funny incidents from activities. No matter which direction the conversation goes, I am so proud that last night they all ended the same:

“Best week ever.”

The therapy teams all talked about progress their campers made – some campers with big milestone like speech or eating breakthroughs, some with more subtle advances like applying good manners to open the door for a fellow camper or saying “thank you” when given a turn with a toy. They talk about the intensity of working with the kids all day and then cranking on reports for several hours into the night after the kids return to their families. They talk about how the long days will make them better professionals in their regular gigs outside of Adam’s Camp.

The adventure teams talk first and foremost about building relationships. Relationships among the counselors and volunteers and how being around each other for 24 hours a day for six days build strong bonds. Relationships with campers and how enriching it is to learn about quirks, eccentricities, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams. One team last night talked about how emotional and deep their final conversations were, with several teammates misting up recounting how close they felt to their campers.

In all these conversations with the teams, I like to end by asking the counselors, therapists and volunteers if they would choose to return to Adam’s Camp in the future now that they have lived a full week. Lucky for us, we know that the people who commit to spending a week of their lives are already a special breed. Volunteers give up a prime week of summer for no compensation and therapists and counselors could all likely earn more doing something else. When I asked the question again last night, unanimously, they all said, “Absolutely, I can’t wait.”

Best week ever, indeed.

Two new superstars

With the Olympic Games quickly approaching, it will be fun to see who emerges as new superstars – will it be gymnast Simone Biles and swimmer Katie Ladecky becoming America’s new sweethearts?

At Adam’s Camp, this year we have two front-runners as our new superstars: Tyler and Henry, both who this week made the huge leap from therapy camp to adventure camp. This is no small feat, going from a 6-hour therapy day, then spending the rest of the time with your parents to saying goodbye to mom and dad at the beginning of the week then living on your own with people you have never met before for an entire week.

Tyler and Henry not only made the leap, they did so with panache. For Tyler, he leaned into his this new territory from the first second, helping other campers on and off the bus, helping counselors at mealtime and maintaining infectious positivity all day every day. For Henry, our youngest adventure camper this week, his curiosity and excitement for each activity brought a fun energy to his team.

Neither Tyler nor Henry will likely end up on a Wheaties box, but in our eyes they are as deserving of celebration as Simone or Katie.

(Adam’s Camp Executive Director Jay Clark blogs from Adam’s Camp at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, CO, usually late at night, so please pardon any typos)

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