Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming-of-Age program and curriculum. This month in our blog post, we explore our latest curricular theme: The Spirit of Adventure!
Adventure is alive in the SSP groups - both during the daylongs and the summer camping trips. Every time the group meets is an exciting adventure for the youth. How that manifests is different for everyone. For some it’s being outside for extended periods or challenging their boundaries. For others its keeping track of their own gear or being authentic with their peers. What we know is that whatever form the adventure takes, there is always something gained for the youth on their Coming of Age journey with SSP.
We are pleased to share with you a few excerpts from SSP summer trip and daylong summaries written by Leaders and shared with the parents once they returned home. Enjoy the adventures!
"We took the boys to Tam today, hiking up from the Pantoll we found a trail heading to the top. My favorite part of the day was when confronted with a fork in the trail, my adult mind went to check the trail map, trying to stay on track with the 'plan' for the day. Meanwhile, of few of boys followed their sense of adventure, straight up the mountain, to which we all followed and ended up on top of the ridge. With clouds both below and above us, the sky opening up over the ocean and the wind ripping through, it was awesome to see the spirit of adventure really striking into our boys.
"My favorite comment of the day was, 'I don’t even like hiking and this is awesome.' We were all alone up there. We adventured, played, and got caught in the rain."
Adventure: Unstructured time
“After the group was finished with water time and in dry clothes, there were still a couple hours until dinner. They sat around for a little while - expressing that they wished they had a game to play, or their phones to zone out on.
"Boredom might sound like a strange goal for us to have as Leaders, but knowing many of them lead busy lives, and knowing they usually always have the distraction of technology and social media available, we genuinely wanted to give them unstructured time to see what would arise from it. One of them suggested they go look at the toads again, and they all ambled off and spent a while looking at toads, making mud balls, and throwing them at each other (the mudballs, not the toads).
"We never would have suggested that as an activity, obviously, and the girls created the experience entirely for themselves. It's often these things not directed by Leaders that wind up being deeply memorable.”
Adventure: Sharing authentically with others
“Once we arrived at the lake, we gathered together to take turns sharing in Council style with the 'rose-bud-thorn' framework. We were happy to hear how each of the girls shares went deep, bringing in personal ‘thorn’ struggles with courage to be heard by the group. We took time to discuss the thorn of each girl, letting the girls share their advice and similar struggles, to offer each other support.”
Adventure: Physical Challenge
"The path on the first day began with a sustained uphill. There were plenty of pines and firs, and the landscape was mostly dirt and small sized rocks with the occasional boulders. Hemmed in by trees, we didn't have big views for the first couple miles. The boys handled it well. Other than normal backpack adjustments, water breaks, and snack stops, they motored upwards, handily gaining the 1,000 feet of elevation between the trailhead and our first stopping point, Camp Lake. There, after about 2.3 miles of hiking, we dropped packs, changed into our suits and took off for a swim.
"With memories of last year still fresh, jumping off of rocks into an alpine lake was high on the boys' agenda (who could blame them?) and we found some a short swim across the lake. Leader 1 and I scouted and, finding the rocks to be a little bit shorter than last year, and the landing area to be wide and deep, we gave it a test jump. Finding it to be appropriate, we reviewed the safety rules and got agreements from the boys, and it was on! All of them took big leaps from different perches. Smiles were huge, and in between jumps, we rested contentedly together on the warm granite in the golden afternoon sun. Good livin'.
"After we had our fill, or maybe before because Leader 1 and I knew we had a ways to go, we swam back and repacked our bags. We had another 1.7 miles, most of it uphill, to our destination for the night, Bear Lake. During this stretch the wildflowers were unbelievable. During this stretch the boys also got tired, and luckily we got there just as they were starting to show signs of weariness.”
Adventure: Keeping vigil
“We used the last of the daylight to finish our site set up and engage in a ritual of setting an altar to anchor us during our All Night Fire Vigil. The boys each placed their chosen object into the center of a circle of stones that we constructed and with the chime of a bell committed themselves to our group experience for the coming night. They focused in on the question 'What fire am I tending in my life right now?'
"After some Capture the Flag, and the making of dinner we started a fire and set into the process of tending a fire all evening. The first struggle that we were faced with was the splitting of the group in two, some boys wanting to eat in the tent, and others around the fire. This did not give us an easy way to talk about how we would logistically make it through the night with our fire still burning.
"As we sat around the fire and ate, we began to wonder if the other boys had gone to bed. Lo and behold, they had, so the remaining boys had the task of making a plan for everyone, including those who had gone to bed. After the shifts were set, we settled into the rhythm, each boy tending the fire for two hours.
"Leader 1 and Co Leader both went to bed around 11, allowing the boys to be with the fire on their own. Leader 1 was woken up at 2 AM, because one of the boys refused to wake up for his shift (he was worried that we has going to have to be by himself with the fire and was a little frightened of that prospect). Another boy volunteered to take his shift, and the Leader and the boys sat through the night from 2 AM until sunrise. We dropped into some really sweet space with each other, laughing and connecting.”