BY JOSEPH BREILING, SEPTEMBER 7, 2017
As I jump out of bed in a frantic hurry, I take a deep breath and realize that…I don’t have to go to camp today. Our ninth and final week of Adventures Summer Camp is over and today I’m going to do something I haven’t done all summer. I’m going to take some me-time and hike Mt. Sopris. Nika (my dog) and I drive slowly up the gravel road and get to the trailhead before the sun has shown itself. The morning air has a new coldness to it and as I tie up my boots, I rub my hands together vigorously to gain some dexterity. Mornings in Colorado are typically chilly but this is different. It’s a sure sign that the summer is coming to an end. And with that end comes a new beginning; autumn will be here soon.
The start of the trail through the dense pine forest is steep but always feels steeper as my body adjusts and lungs are not used to working this hard. I know I’m prepared but can’t stop thinking that I should have brought “this” or “that” and left “this” behind. As I’m mentally going through the contents of my day pack, I start reflecting on this past summer. I told myself to not think about “work” during this hike but that was a crazy idea. My work is my life and my passion. How could I not think about it?
This past June, 56 energetic people showed up to the Colorado Mountain College campus in Glenwood Springs. Similar to this hike, as ready as we thought we were, you can never be 100% prepared for everything. New seasonal employees were filled with an unmatched excitement, intrigue, and desire to learn. It was our job to train them and harness that energy! As we learned the personalities and strengths of each person, things became a little clearer. I look up from the rocky path and notice I am already to the cattle gate where the pines open up to a huge meadow. This is a breath of fresh air as the sun has finally shown itself over the ridge to the East. We completed our extensive training using the Ascendigo Sports Manual Curriculum and were fortunate to have the most prepared staff ever.
Glancing around, the view was incredible and open. The hike through the meadow didn’t take long. Now I was approaching the Aspen grove. In my head, I remember that first Sunday check-in of summer camp. Even though this was my 8th first day of camp, I was still a little nervous. That went away after the first person arrived. It’s on!!! The first couple weeks are usually a little less busy and a nice transition from training. It was a peaceful hike to Thomas Lakes. This is a perfect spot to take a break and prepare for the steep climb ahead.
Camp was very similar. Our participation numbers climbed each week and we maxed out at 25. This summer saw the most participants and the largest group we’ve ever had. At times it can be a battle to maintain the energy to finish but with each and every milestone I pass, every achievement made and obstacle overcome, I gain confidence. Every child that wake surfs independently for the first time or tries something new, gives me the strength to keep going. It’s an amazing feeling to know that at Ascendigo, we can share in the growth of individuals. Every time I stop to look out and back at the trail, the beauty intensifies but my fatigue increases. I know the peak is close but these false summits are really testing me.
Alas, I can see the true summit but the path is getting hard to follow. Week 9 of camp fills my thoughts. This is the first summer we’ve had nine weeks of camp and it was a Lake Program and Ranch Program exclusive week. This was a bit of a switch from the previous eight weeks and the weather wasn’t very kind but it ended on a great note. Everyone achieved levels of success. We did it! We reached the peak and it’s all downhill from here. It was the best summer I had been a part of and as the leaves turn from green to yellow, it’s time to prepare for next year — to make it even better. The Adventures Team is working hard to simplify and open registration early (November ‘17) for Summer 2018. We are ready for our local fall Saturday Adventures Club and gearing up for our Winter Adventures ski lessons and camps. Next time I’m standing at the top this mountain, I’ll have skis strapped on my feet.