Cal grew up in the Peak District, a hub for adventure activity in northern central England. He began climbing at age 14 through his school and was hooked! His early career in the outdoor industry began at the local outdoor center, coaching the youth climbing club. He then went on to gain more experience within the Outdoor Education realm and in a broader spectrum of activities. Cal has a B.A. in Outdoor Adventure Management from the University of Derby in England. He first joined the Blue Star staff in 2012 and became an AMGA certified Single Pitch Instructor and a certified Wilderness Responder, trainings completed as part of his preparation as a staff member through the Blue Star Training Institute. Cal has been the Director of our Rock Climbing Program for three seasons and is also the Director of our Outdoor Adventure Program. Cal took a lead role in developing and leading our Outdoor Adventure Skills Camp, which we re-introduced in Summer 2015. Here are his thoughts on Outdoor Adventure Skills Camp.
“The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have.” These are the words of prolific mountaineer Reinhold Messner. Themes of the outdoors and adventure often lend themselves to inspire philosophy. I believe this is not simply down to the beauty and grandeur of adventurous environments, but the way in which we interact with those environments. Feeling small amongst the trees, yet achieving something big. It is in these environments where we can take the skills we have and use them to do something truly wonderful.
We have now had time to reflect on Blue Star’s Outdoor Adventure Skills Camp. What an experience! The week was full of activities that encouraged our campers to seek the challenges of our incredible Western North Carolina landscape. They honed skills in rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking, then used these skills not just to achieve goals but to appreciate the outdoors in a unique way. They embraced the choice to take more testing paths through nature’s playground.
Adventure sports provide moments that accelerate personal development, and the outdoors provide an environment that nurtures well-being and mindfulness. When combined you have a super fuel for self-discovery. If you stand at the foot of a climb and look to the summit there is always a little voice that asks, “Can I do that? Am I strong enough in mind and body?” These are big questions. When you can say “yes” to these questions and complete your journey, you gain a little self-esteem and confidence. When you say “no”, but continue to carve a path towards completing that journey, you create a factory for self- esteem and confidence. Through mountain, river, and trail we encouraged our campers to not just take on a challenge but complete it and seek another. This is a cycle that allows for exponential personal growth. Our campers grew in skill, confidence, and awareness of their natural surroundings. They would finish each day with a full tank of self-esteem, but humbled by their future goals; climbing a steeper line, running a stronger rapid, riding a faster trail. It was inspiring to see the outdoors simultaneously inspire and educate our campers.
Aside from the skills learned, the goals achieved and knowledge gained there is one more element that rooted the success of this camp. Happiness. As we spent the final evening watching a slide show of the weeks’ adventures with our campers, revisiting the memories of mountains climbed, rivers paddled and trails ridden, I saw nothing but glowing smiles on every face. A simple but honest indicator of happiness. And in the happiness of our campers we all see success.
To learn more about Outdoor Adventure Skills Camp, click here!