As a chaperone I had the pleasure (and the fun) of going to Kidder Creek last week with a group of fifteen of our junior high and high school youth including my daughter Rebecca. Outgoing youth leader Vasa Lokteff and incoming leader James Bullock with wife Kacey lead our group to the high adventure camp known as Timberline, Kidder Creek. We were blessed with almost perfect weather for our week (near Yreka) as it stayed in the mid-to-high 80’s as we were outdoors for most of the time. Kidder Creek is owned by the Mount Harmon Christian camp in the Santa Cruz mountains, so time for daily prayer and devotions were integrated into our daily activities. The camp director, Pete, gave a opening speech at the campfire the first night telling a story about his adventure kayaking ashore in Glacier Bay, Alaska. He explained how after his excursion he recognized the difference between those on the cruise ships in the bay as opposed to the intrepid people on smaller expedition ships and we were to treat the camp as an expedition, not a cruise. Consequently, it often was asked if one was on an “expedition” or a “cruise” in response to participating in whatever challenge the day brought.
With that spirit in mind, we as leaders and our youth, embraced as much high adventure as we could. Most of our kids, you’ll be happy to know, where not cruisers! The first day included balancing 20-30 feet over a ravine on the adventure obstacle course. We had great fun trying not to fall off the precariously swaying, hanging logs and ropes! The next two days involved a trip to a waterfall for exploring, rock climbing, and plunging 15 feet into the cold creek by the waterfall. We camped under the stars for two nights at Happy Camp for our raft trip down the class three (almost four) rapids on the Klamath River. In addition to the excitement of “accidental swimmers” being tossed out of rafts in the rocky, fast-moving rapids, there was some serious rock climbing and leaping into some pretty cold water. A few of us accepted the challenge of jumping off a very high rock perch called “PDH”. Short and apropos, “Pretty Darn High” was about 45 feet above the river. I hit the water at nearly the speed of sound and still am sore on my rear as I wasn’t very perpendicular!
Back at the Timberline camp on Thursday, our kids proved their bravery once again on the high ropes course. Obviously designed by someone who is either mad, or not afraid of heights, I watched our youth (and Vasa) walk across a 10″ log 40-50 feet above the forest floor. Most of them even attempted the “Leap of Faith” from a equally high platform leaping at and grabbing a hanging handle four feet away at that very scary height. Even the climb up was very intimidating. Other activities at the camp included volleyball, crafts, archery, paintball, and swimming at the pond, so there was plenty to do for everyone. One of our innocent youth gleefully let everyone know he was the one who “shot Hagrid” (me) during paintball. The last night at the campfire each cabin performed a skit and our awesome GS youth had the best skits of the entire camp. I had fun imitating Pete with my take on his glacier expedition speech in our skit.
As someone who has not interacted with our youth very often, probably the best part of the trip was getting to know our leaders and the kids from our church during the week. Other campers from around California where there as well and I must tell you our GS youth were the best behaved and all around happiest bunch there. Even though a few others where a little on the loud, rude, and obnoxious side, OUR youth really did shine. It really is apparent to me how awesome our kids are and we should all be proud how well they behaved and how well they get along and genuinely like each other. They made it fun for us as leaders as well and we all left with some precious memories and lots of laughs. It will be sad to see Vasa go, as the kids really do love him, and he not only made us all laugh, but also taught us some very good lessons from the bible. Luckily we have a awesome replacement for Vasa with James (and Kacey as a bonus!) and it was good that the kids and I had the opportunity to spend time with them as well. So glad my wife talked me into going!
-Dave Michael (AKA “Hagrid”)