Youth Odyssey has finished it’s first summer camp of the season, our Nueces Delta Camp. Each day focused on a different activity with the goal of “opening minds and expanding horizons”. This was achieved through numerous outdoor adventures that drew individual participants into a supportive, cohesive team.
The first day consisted of getting-to-know-you games, setting up camp, and gathering firewood. Some got a little ambitious but instead of giving up and leaving wood behind, they chose to take it nice and slow; and made it back to camp, firewood in hand. The mosquitoes came out in full force once the sun went down but we had plenty of bug spray and an awesome screened in shelter that we could retreat to in the evening so we could discuss the day and play games.
The first big group activity that we did was on day two of camp where we went to the ropes course. We were able to see how well the group worked together as they encouraged each other and to push themselves to try new things. There was thunder in the area that we had to wait out but once it was gone we took on the course in full force. The campers worked amazingly as a team, which revealed itself during the second half of the day when we were doing our high elements. One situation in particular made all of the facilitators say “this is why we do this.” There was a girl who got to the top of a pole and needed to go across a 20 foot wire to get to the zip line. When she got to the top of the pole, she starting saying she was done and couldn’t do it and it was obvious she was starting to get scared. One of the facilitators called out her name to refocused her attention. Then they did some breathing exercises, and coached her on how to get across. She started moving at a slow and calculated pace towards the zip line area. The group members that were below ran to get to where she could see them and started encouraging her, letting her know how great she was doing. When she made it across the wire everyone let out a triumphant “WOOHOO!” She said she was proud of herself and was glad she pushed through to finish it. It was the perfect example of what we want the kids to get out of our programs; confidence, teamwork, support, and encouragement. It was definitely the highlight of the day.
After an obviously pretty intense day, we decided that the kids should kick back and relax with a day at the beach. They were all playing and working together doing different activities. Some were burying each other in the sand, others were in the water with the boogie boards and some were building sand castles and just enjoying the day. There were a lot of laughs,fun and, thankfully, not a lot of bad sunburns. Especially considering that the next day were going to be out in the sun for our kayak day.
For our kayaking day, the usually windy (but not today) Labonte Boat Launch, was still and hot. The heat index said it was 110 degrees! So we made sure that the kids covered up with sunscreen and had access to plenty of water. The basics of kayaking were covered and the kids listened well. Staff decided who was in each kayak with the goal of getting the kids to interact with campers other than their tent-mates, it worked out well. Our destination on the trip was to go up to the dam and have lunch and then head back. Due to the lack of a breeze and the heat we decided to add in a bit of swimming after lunch so the kids could cool down. When our kayaking adventure was over we loaded up and headed back to the Delta where the kids all voted to take showers to rinse off the river and to cool down. Luckily, when we returned to camp, there was a welcome breeze blowing through that made the rest of the day more pleasant.
Our last real adventure with camp was to go to the Odem pool and learn about and experience SCUBA Diving 101. We had an amazing board member, James Gourley, who shared important diving information like how the gear works, what the hand signals are, and some tips for being underwater (rule #1 is “just keep breathing, never hold your breath”). After the initial introductions it was time for the kids to put on the gear and get underwater. We had to split them into 2 groups and one half went straight into the SCUBA portion, the other half got to play around in the pool with the slides, get in on some freeze tag action, and play on the lily pads until it was their turn to get into the gear. All of the kids really enjoyed the day and the pool and kept taking about it throughout the rest of the day. When we got to camp we had some free time and chose to fill it playing silly games and journaling about the day.
After a week of crazy on the go fun, we ended camp with a cookout graduation where the kids were awarded a certificate for their participation in our Youth Odyssey Nueces Delta Adventure Camp and a diving certificate for their SCUBA day. All participants in our camp also received personalized awards based on their behavior and interests during our camp. Some of the awards were the friendship award, explorer award, and hollow leg award (they could eat insane amounts of food). We chose to share brief stories of our adventures throughout the week in the form of a silly skit that the kids put together, and it was a hit. When the fun was over, the kids started to trickle out and say their goodbyes and then it was our turn to pack it in and recoup from the week because our second summer camp, Living Local, was to start on the coming Tuesday which you all will hear about in next weeks blog!
We had a blast! And we hope you enjoyed our fun recap and all the pictures we took.