Camping Tips from Oaks Adventurers
Each summer The Oaks takes a group of students on Adventure Trips, week-long excursions in the great outdoors where they can experience whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, and camping out in tents. The main goals for the trip are to strengthen students’ relationships with each other and with God’s creation, as well as to challenge them physically, mentally and socially through unique experiences.
We interviewed three 8th grade Adventure Trip participants, Halla, Jerry and Seth, to get their perspective and hear highlights from their experiences. Most of the group had been camping before, but all of them had first time experiences on the Adventure Trip.
For instance, it was a first for them to go rock climbing on real rocks versus climbing a rock wall at a gym. “I wasn’t too stoked for it at first, the rock climbing, but once I tried, it was fun,” one camper said. They agreed that it was a little scary at the beginning, “safe, but not easy.” Beyond the landscape and view, the main difference between real rocks and an artificial rock wall is that you are not harnessed to the ground. It is more challenging with no one to hold on to, but it also becomes more of a team activity because you have to clip and unclip yourself in unison with one another.
Whitewater rafting was another first time experience for the three campers. Each group had a well-seasoned guide in the raft, but it didn’t stop them from being nervous at first. After getting their bearings and instructions, and learning to paddle in synchronization, it became really fun. The ride would get bumpy where the water moved fast, and where the water was calm, campers could get out and swim. Then there were the raft wars, where boats battle it out while campers splash and pull each other in the water!
Some advice from Oaks adventurers to future campers:
- Being nervous is okay. Try it out anyway, especially the new stuff that you have never done. Once I tried things, I realized they were fun and wanted to do them again.
- It is a really good way to get together with friends. Being together with each other for a week let me bond with people that I don’t know if I would’ve gotten to know at school.
- The experience has encouraged me and my friends and family to do this stuff more.
- If you’re nervous about the food, it’s actually pretty good. Cooking is fun because most of the stuff we cooked was simple - pasta, oatmeal, burritos, and fajitas. You make it, so you decide it’s good.
- The worst thing about the trip, van smells!
If you are interested in taking a trip with your family, The Oaks recommends visiting the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, which includes several natural arches, and Natural Bridge State Park (both within a 4-hour drive from Indianapolis). Oaks trips have also included visits to Daniel Boone National Forest, Cumberland Falls State Park and Mammoth Cave.