One of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies is “Heartbreak Ridge” from the 1980’s where he plays Tom Highway, a tough, salty U.S. Marine Gunnery Sargent nearing the end of his military career who constantly reminds his platoon the most important part of their jobs as warriors is to “improvise, adapt and overcome.”
Such is the first day of programs for Adam’s Camp – adapting, improvising and overcoming.
Today is the day when staff, counselors, therapists and volunteers discover the reality that no matter how organized they are, how prepared they are or how many times they have worked camp before, they will need to find the poise and patience to handle unforeseen situations. Some situations bubble to the surface, some explode. Call it “the magic of Adam’s Camp,” or “the Adam’s Camp way,” but it is a thrill to watch Adam’s Camp team members lean into these occasions with poise and patience for the betterment of the campers.
When transportation logistics needed to change when there were 10 kids and five seats, one therapist just looked at me with a sly smile and said, “first day,” as she turned her camper’s wheelchair around to take him back inside. Later at the climbing wall, one of the campers lost her grip (no need to worry – they are belayed by YMCA staff), and her first instinct was to reach and grab the therapist climbing with her, which meant clutching a couple of handfuls of the therapist’s hair. Talk about leaning in – rather than pushing the camper’s away hands or raising her voice, the therapist drew closer, literally leaning in, to calm the camper down and with a few gentle words convinced her to let go of her hair. When one of our adventure campers boiled over to where his frustrations were becoming physical rebellion, a quick thinking counselor immediately took charge and quickly de-escalated the situation so everybody was safe.
Examples happen anywhere you look here at Snow Mountain Ranch – and if he were here, Tom Highway would be proud of the way the Adam’s Camp team improvises, adapts and overcomes.
A Common Ground
One of the things I most love about sports is the ability to unite and create a common ground. How else to explain more than one million people cramming downtown Denver for a Super Bowl parade? And if I ever need a topic of conversation with my Dad, no need to look further than the Colorado Rockies pitching staff.
A challenge we face each new week of Adam’s Camp is that teams of campers, volunteers and counselors have very little time to bond before diving into the week. While there is training and communication before camp starts, the first time they are all together as a team is the first day of camp. A quick way to solve this is using sports to find common ground, which was on display yesterday as an adventure team spent the afternoon at the Snow Mountain Ranch rec center. The simple act of passing a football, shooting baskets and kicking a soccer ball quickly became a way for campers, volunteers and counselors to all bond a little bit and feel more comfortable with each other. So just like music, art, nature, and so many other little things, sports are one of the innumerable facets that make the diamond of Adam’s Camp shine.
(Adam’s Camp Executive Director Jay Clark is blogging from Adam’s Camp 2016, usually late at night, so please excuse any typos)