Hello! My name is Shari, and I’m the Marketing Manager at the Bethlehem Center. During spring break, some of our students from the Read to Lead Academy and the Bethlehem Leadership Unit (B.L.U.) attended Camp Lookout for the second year in a row. I had the privilege of spending some time with the high schoolers while taking pictures of their different camp activities.
Let me tell you, they were a brave bunch! They rock climbed, zip lined, balanced with high ropes, swung through the air on a V-swing, went caving in the depths of Lookout Mountain, and more! I saw many face their fears as their peers encouraged and cheered them on. I saw genuine friendship and care for one another. I witnessed growth through stories about last year’s obstacle courses being too difficult to overcome, and how this year, those same obstacles became a piece of cake!
Asia, one of our B.L.U. students, scaled the side of a rock wall with nothing but a harness and rope being held by a camp counselor at the bottom. Her fellow campers gathered around, chanting her name. She pulled herself up onto the platform as another counselor hooked her to a new rope that would send her soaring through the air.
“I can’t do it. I can’t do it!” she yelled.
“Yes, you can! We got you! If anyone can do it, you can!”, her friends cheered.
Asia stepped a little closer to the edge only to step back once a cold breeze hit her cheeks. “You can do it, Asia! You’ve gone so far already!” yelled her bunkmate Toria, bundled in her coat. After a few deep breaths, Asia sat on the edge and scooted herself off the platform. Her body whisked past me and my camera! Her screaming quickly turned to laughter as she flew towards an open sky.
The grin on her face was proof that this would be a story she’d share with everyone back home.
Jefferey stood 35 feet in the air as we all watched from below, wrapped in blankets and scarves. He pulled two ropes along as he walked. The ropes were attached to his harness and a cable above his head. The cable followed the path he would have to cross before reaching the bungee swing. Jefferey is extremely afraid of heights, but he persisted through the course. With each step, he questioned his decision, but his friends reminded him that it would be over soon.
He balanced across a log, hopped from one wood plank to the other, balanced across a thin cable line, and hopped again to the final course. Once a counselor hooked Jefferey’s harness to the V-swing, Jefferey pulled back and waited for the countdown to begin. He would have to allow the weight of the swing to pull him off the edge and sling him through the air. “What am I doing?” he yelled as we began to count. “ No, wait! Stop!”, he continued yelling.
“You got this, Jefferey! It’s going to be the best feeling ever!”, yelled a friend who just finished the course. Jefferey took a deep breath and waited for us to finish. 3...2...1.
He screamed as he swooped over fields, horses, and a nearby pond. First he swung high and then slowly started to sway closer to the ground. Once he stopped, the biggest grin you’ve ever seen formed under curly blonde hair.
It was so cool to watch these kids grow in their confidence and experience new things with each other. By completing these obstacle courses, they learned how to communicate their needs, trust their camp leaders, and take care of one another. It was a spring break well spent!
Shari J. Watson
Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Manager at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can.