Monday, July 11, 2011

ProRanger Leadership Camp - Day 1

Tuesday July 5th 2011
Today was the first day of ProRanger Leadership Camp. 21 ProRangers converged on Boswell Pensylvania, from all 12 ProRanger partner parks, to meet at Outdoor Odyssey Adventure Camp. Upon arrival, we were hurried to unpack, get changed into PT gear and hit the ground running. Immediately, we all knew that this week was going to be something different than we had ever experienced. We were introduced to our fearless leaders – Don Sweet, ProRanger Program Manager; Stephen Sweet, brother to Don Sweet; and Victoria Sweet, wife of Don Sweet. Throughout the week we were told that other individuals would be joining us, but these three served as the anchors for the group. We were then introduced to the Team Leaders (4 – Wayne, Jeff, Erin and Cailin) and the Chief Leader (John). This system was set up to familiarize all of the ProRangers with the Incident Command System. This operational style is something that, as Rangers, we will all need to become familiar with whether it be working a large, annual event at a park to working a national disaster.

After dividing up into teams, we had the opportunity to eat, mingle with each other and meet the camp staff that would be standing by our sides the whole way through. We were then brought into the camp's meeting room to get an introduction to the philosophies of the camp as well as a brief overview of the creation of the camp. During that time the concept of the MEPS Triangle was presented to us.
MEPS stands for Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. The mental component of the triangle looks at our goal setting ability. It is the thought that goes behind our goals; whether or not they are sensible, attainable and logical. These goals do not have to be long term but merely the goals that we set each day of our lives. The physical component is looking at our ability to reach those goals. The spiritual component is an assessment of ones moral compass. At first we were all nervous about the term spiritual because spiritual is often paired with religious. It was explained to is that spiritual merely means having a set of morals or guidelines that you follow throughout your life. These morals help to define who you are as an individual and who you want to become. Each one of these components are equally important, as is represented by the equilateral triangle. We also were introduced to the two most important words – genuine concern. These words would come into play multiple times throughout the week, as we saw their significance grow. While this meeting was brief, it began to teach us these important concepts that will stick with us for the rest of our lives, whether or not we are consciously thinking about them.
After this meeting we were sent off to do the high ropes course. Many ProRangers had never done high ropes before. This was the beginning of an uphill battle for many people. The counselors extensively went over safety before we were given the opportunity to begin the high ropes. In pairs, we had to climb up to the top of a telephone pole, then work together to get through five different obstacle series. The first and the last obstacles were individual effort, but if it weren’t for the support of partners and individuals on the ground, the success rate would have been significantly lower.

Dave Ballam of Prince William National Forest was in attendance and provided abundant support and comedy to those participating on the ropes course.
This first activity that we did as a team truly turned us from a group of individuals from different parks to one unit of ProRangers. We were forced to work together and put trust in your partner. The people standing on the ground rallied support for the partner groups way up in the sky. The most amazing part of the high ropes course, though, was watching those with a fear of heights overcome that fear. There was not a single person who gave into their fear. There were times that they wanted to give up and just come down but with the support of their partner and the other ProRangers, they were able to push through. The strength of each individual truly began to shine. The partners of these individuals are the real strong men and women of the group. They were able to walk their partner through and even though there is no doubt that they were terrified as well, they kept their cool and were able to walk their partner through the whole course.

The next component of high ropes that we set out to conquer was what the camp called the “Leap of Faith.” This was, again, climbing up to the top of a relatively short telephone pole with a platform on top then leaping, trying to grab onto a large trapeze bar that was just merely hanging. This was a test of your ability to trust yourself to grab onto that bar. Many people missed the bar but they still wanted to get right back up there and do it again. The amount of perseverance that was shown throughout the time spent on the high ropes course was inspirational. Already, we were showing the strength not only as individuals but as a team. We watched as many people worked through their fears.
Working as a team was what seemed to be the goal of day one. Many of us didn’t know one another before entering the program and have not had the chance to spend much time together prior to camp. We were immediately asked to put trust in each other.

After playing a game of kick ball, sprinting through a series of agility runs and ending the night with a bonfire, we were all able to look back on the day and see how far we had already come. Day one was a success for the ProRanger Cohort Two. Written by Team-Leader Calin Bean. Photos by Victoria Sweet.

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