Young, Wild, and Free

Austin Ashcraft June 17, 2022

Last night we had our first all-camp campout of the summer. Other groups like our base campers have taken some campout trips here and there, but this was our first night where every camper at Rockmont got to spend a night out in the woods.  

Everybody had a blast on their campout, and the energy this afternoon was electric. All the boys are gathering for lunch swapping stories about their night in the wilderness. There’s something special about 320+ boys spending a night all out in the woods and then coming back together to talk about it and share a meal.

I spent most of the evening with the Poplar Tribe (rising eighth and ninth graders) who camped up at the Tribal Campsite up on the mountain. By the time I got up there, they had already set up camp and were running around in the woods playing. 

It was an incredible atmosphere to walk up on: A bunch of boys set free to go play in the woods and in the nearby creek.  There was something so natural and wonderful and human about that scene that I walked up on. 

A huge smile broke across my face. 

In the middle of the craziness and busyness that can be the life of a summer camp director, that moment of seeing all the boys playing in the woods blew some fresh wind in my sails. In many ways, it was a moment where everything else stopped and life felt right.

I truly believe those 13- and 14-year-old boys need more time playing and running free in the woods like that and less time worrying about their PSAT scores and how many followers they have or don’t have on social media.  

Taking time away like that is critical for these young boys in their transition into becoming young men.

Most of these kids live their day-to-day life on a pretty strict schedule, with school and sports and this or that club to be at all the time. And when they aren’t doing something structured, they are often glued to their screens. 

This doesn’t leave much time for a kid to run around in the woods with some friends, free from all those distractions, and just be.  In a world in which there isn’t much room for the wild, seeing these boys get to embrace the wild and the wilderness all around them was such a gift to behold. 

This is what it’s all about. This is why we do what we do. 

To all you parents out there — thanks for trusting us with this great work!

Austin Ashcraft

Camp Director

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    This is exactly why our boys have been going to Rockmont. I just looked at Waldo from 2019 and there is Teddy having just graduated 8th, and now Wilson. Summer after 8th grade-people say “Wow! Still going to camp?”. And we answer with “Yes! No reason not to go!” (also, tons of reasons to go!)

    So much fun and just an amazing experience
    Best wishes for continued fun and happiness❤️❤️

    Sounds like a great time. I look forward to the pictures.

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