How We Develop Rockmont’s Program in Pursuit of Five Critical Objectives for our Campers
Part Three: Independence
Recently, I was in meetings with some Rockmont alumni, and there were many old camp stories being told. Suddenly, one alumnus turned to all of us and said, “you know one thing Rockmont instilled in me? I can’t walk past a piece of trash. Doesn’t matter where I am, I get about two steps past it and then I just have to turn around and pick it up.”
Everyone immediately agreed!
“When you care for a place deeply, you take ownership of it, feel responsible for it, you do it without being asked,” another said. “That’s one of the most important things Rockmont taught me.”
At Rockmont, cultivating greater independence in our campers is a calling and a gift.
Our summer staff arrive one to two weeks before camp begins for intense training. It’s our time as Directors to prepare the staff, to teach them how to help campers achieve greater self-confidence, self-awareness, independence, Christian character, and leadership skills.
Our staff training emphasizes how important it is to let campers own the experience and feel responsible for themselves, to be able to gain independence.
Those two words are the essence of helping young men gain independence. Our program is designed to provide age-appropriate stepping-stones of experiences that take campers a little out of their comfort zones. These experiences showcase thinking for oneself, owning decisions and learning life lessons from the aftermath. From the camper’s perspective, a new challenge can seem risky.
Our staff are trained to control the risk and to safely shepherd the camper while he discovers things for himself.
Our campouts program is a great example! Andrew Ginn, our Assistant Director for Staffing, explains:
“When you’re a Bear camper, our CCC (Climbing and Camping Crew) sets up your tent for you and does the cooking. But with counselor guidance, Bear campers still participate and learn to pack for the campout, to think through what they’ll need based on the weather, the hike, and the activities they’ll do. As campers continue to grow at camp, they do more and more for themselves each year as they camp further up the mountain.”
Even the layout of the cabins at Rockmont reflects the increased independence required. As a Bear camper you live in lodges in the center of camp, right across from the Summer Camp Director’s home. Deer campers live in cabins on the mountain sides adjacent to the gym, and Mountain camp is the furthest away: a quad on the hillside above the zip line.
Throughout a camper’s time at Rockmont they literally grow into the Rockmont experience, always accepting and conquering another challenge.
As part of our Rockmont Way philosophy, we believe every new thing a camper does for himself is a step towards realizing the full stature of the responsible, caring, independent man we all want him to become – the kind of man who always goes back and picks up that piece of trash!