Do you remember the first time you saw “the tree?” You may have been about nine years old…
You know the one: tall, wide, low enough branches to grab, but not so low there’s no challenge. Then right at the top, there’s that spot. The one where you’re sure that if you get to it, you can see for miles.
Wild and Wonder.
When I was a kid growing up in South Carolina, my Dad used to tell me stories of the camping trips he would take in Quetico Provincial Park, Canada, and to me, Canada was filled with wonders. It wasn’t hot, there were lakes everywhere, and you could drink the water right out of the streams. You had to watch out for bears, and if you got injured you had to take care of it yourself. You could fish for your dinner, cook it over a fire, and then paddle on. You had two things: what you brought in your pack, and trust in the group you were with.
My eyes filled with wonder at the thought of the wild of that place.
I began to ask my Dad when I could go with him. “When you’re older,” was the classic response. And looking back, it made sense because I wasn’t ready for that much wildness yet. The reason? That amount of wildness takes responsibility to manage it carefully.
So, my Dad started to get me ready. Small doses of wildness here and there: a camping trip, an adventure in the woods, paddling around a lake. As time went by, I became more comfortable with the small steps into the wildness that prepare you for the next unknown.
Then the time came for me to take part in the next trip. My wonder was still there, but now I was ready for the wildness of 14 days out in the woods, miles between campsites, and traveling in canoes.
This idea of taking the wonder and using it to prepare for the wild of the world is what Rockmont provides for campers.
A sense of wonder towards nature, and themselves. When campers experience council for the first time, it’s wild! Drums, different names, a fire that lights by itself!? You can see the wonder in their eyes.
For some campers, it’s their first time on a campout. Wonder at the wildness of sleeping outside is something that sticks with you. Walking back into camp, they tend to stand a little taller.
Wonder helps inspire a lifelong curiosity. You can always tell who’s curious about the world around them because they ask questions and want to know answers. They aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know something, and they have a genuine interest in those around them. Whether it’s the first time at council, the first time playing a camp-wide game, or seeing the waterfront for the first time, Rockmont gives a sense of that wonder that leads to a curious life.
Small (sometimes larger) doses of wildness for young men bring out confidence, a sense of self, and the assurance that you can handle a bit of unknown in your life. Rockmont provides a safe setting for exploring wonder through the wild.
Truthfully, I think that’s why I love Rockmont so much. Not only do we set up moments of adventure and awe, but the staff know when they see it, how to shape it into something more.
Wild and Wonder.