Why We Camp

Austin Ashcraft March 18, 2024

 

Camping and exploring the outdoors is one of the key components of our mission at Camp Rockmont.

Guiding our campers out of their cabins and into the woods for a night under the stars is a welcome break from the whirlwind of camp life and an incredible opportunity for the campers to learn to enjoy the beautiful Creation that we have been given.

Notice I said “learn” to enjoy- because many of us don’t naturally enjoy camping outside in the wilderness.

I myself was one of those campers. For so many years at camp I enjoyed every aspect of camp- except when I had to march into the woods with my cabin for a cabin campout. One day when my cabin and I were getting ready to hike out of camp to our campsite for the night, a heavy afternoon downpour rolled in. I thought surely we would cancel our night out in the woods.

I was wrong. I remember being so angry and upset as we hiked out in the pouring rain, wondering how I was going to get through this. I got very wet that day and I learned a lot about why it’s important to waterproof your bag before a hike and how to build a strong and sturdy shelter that stays dry.

 

But I learned something even more important that I didn’t realize I had learned until later that year: I can do hard things.

Several months later I was one of the only 8th graders in my class not to make the varsity basketball team. I was shocked and angry and felt like my world was crashing in on itself. It seems funny looking back on it now, but at the time, that was my whole world and it was a massive disappointment and I didn’t know how I would get through it.

Later that day in my room at home I remembered that campout from the summer before where I got soaking wet.

I remembered that feeling of thinking “there’s no way I can get through this,” and then the even more powerful feeling of accomplishment the next day when I arrived back to my cabin, hung all of my stuff out to dry, and realized that hard things don’t last forever. That memory from camp was enough to get me through that challenge. I can’t put a price on the value of that experience from camp and what it did for me as a 13 year old facing the challenges of life.

 

At Rockmont, we are intentional about how we camp out. Our youngest campers in Bear camp stay closer to the heart of camp to get them comfortable with sleeping outside.

Our middle aged campers in Deer Camp head up the mountain into the vast 550 acres of our pristine wilderness- the hikes can be a bit challenging and exhausting, and they are a little farther away from the comfort of camp.

And our oldest campers in Mountain camp venture off of our campus into the beautiful surrounding Blue Ride mountains, as the Rockmont wilderness experience culminates with the Sycamores camping on the shoulder of Mount Mitchell and hiking to its summit the following morning- the highest peak east of the Mississippi!

Besides the obvious gifts of spending time in nature away from screens and technology and getting to bond with your cabinmantes around the campfire, there are so many gifts that camping outside has to offer us.  Some campers love camping out and it’s their favorite part of camp, some dread it, and some learn to love it as the years go by.

Wherever campers may fall on that spectrum, we have counselors ready to walk with them every step of the way and encourage them as they either do something they love or do something that is a challenge for them.

The lessons I’ve learned from many many nights spent outside as a kid have served me tremendously well in so many areas of my life as an adult.  I am grateful to now help facilitate the giving of those invaluable gifts to hundreds of campers each Friday night in the summer as I watch cabins venture off into the woods together. At camp, we love camping!

 

 

Austin Ashcraft

Director

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