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Staff Story

​AJ Stewart

Age 22

Location: Black Mountain, NC

The Stretch Zone

I had tried and tried for several days, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to roll in a kayak. It was my first year at Rockmont and every other camper in my skill had already found success and moved on, and I was incredibly discouraged. I was ready to throw in the towel, and I would’ve if it hadn’t been for Chip Rouse, the Kayaking instructor at the time. Chip stayed back with me near the bank of Lake Eden, patiently working with me and offering encouragement as I struggled again and again. I was ready to call it quits, but Chip was not. He had a bigger vision for me; a vision in which I would learn to persevere and overcome difficulty. Chip knew that my learning to roll in a kayak was about much more than knowing what to do if I were to accidentally flip over in a river, it was a lesson in persistence I would carry with me for the rest of my life. I remember him encouraging me to not give up and to get out of my comfort zone and into the “stretch zone.” It took most of my time at camp that first year, but eventually, I learned how to roll, and more importantly, to live in the stretch zone. So what does Rockmont mean to me? It is a community I cherish dearly. Not just one to have fun with, but one that loves me enough to push me towards greater things, and walk beside me in the process.