Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Leadership Camp 2012

Outdoor Odyssey Leadership Academy

Motto: "Growth Through Adventure"

The Pro Rangers got together at this camp in Boswell, PA to embark on an experience of a life time.  It was nice to see my fellow Pro Rangers come together in one area.  The primary goals for this week were to come together and work as a team, face fears, embrace the great outdoors and to become humble leaders.  The first day was check-in day.  We moved into our living quarters and received our gear thanks to Stephen Sweet and his wife.  Then we played a good ol' game of kick ball.  Nothing like a competitive sport to get us in the mood for what was to come.
After a fun game of kickball we moved over to the low ropes course where we split up into four teams.  I was in team four which we named "The Wolfpack" and our motto was "Fear This!".  The low ropes course was awesome because we were able to pick team leaders and work as a team to overcome obstacles.  As a team we planned a strategy and then motivated each other to complete the course.  Overall I felt our team executed each obstacle very well.  We ended the day with a campfire and reflection while some of our fellow Pro Rangers received some swag for displaying leadership qualities. 

The following morning we awoke very early to conduct some PHYSICAL TRAINING.  I was already feeling the burn from the day prior because even though I think I am a fitness junkie, we were using muscles that have not been used before.  We ran in two lines and made our way to another ropes course.  This course was lines of ropes on an incline and we had to climb up and down the edge of a hill.  While some teams were navigating the course, other teams were doing jumping-jacks.  No matter what we were doing we had to stay moving to keep our heart rates up.  Later on in the day we went to the high-ropes course.  My stomach was turning with nervousness.  I have a fear of falling and this course gave me butterflies in my stomach and I could see I was not the only one who felt that way.  Anyway, I wanted to do this.  I had to overcome my fear.  Jeff was my partner and he gave me so much support.  I could not ask for a better partner. 

Then there was the crazy "Leap of Faith".  The Pro Rangers had to climb up a shaky wooden beam and jump off to try and reach for a metal pole that was hanging from ropes.  The first time I jumped off I quickly held on to my ropes, not even trying to reach for the metal bar.  The second time I gave it my all and leaped out reaching for the metal bar.  This was a proud moment for me.  I gave it my all and overcame many fears thanks to the support of the Pro Rangers and our mentors.  Special thanks to Chief Will Reynolds and Chief Glen Clark for their encouragement.

Taking a leap of faith!
The first two days were filled with so much adventure, could there be more?  Oh yes!  The week had just begun.  We did some more team building obstacle courses and then went to an area with a rock climbing wall and zip-lining.  Even our mentors liked the zip-lining and you could tell they were really enjoying themselves.  There was a long, thick rope that many of the Pro Rangers were climbing up.  I felt that that was one of the most physically challenging things at camp.  Pro Ranger Jay Copper and I received the Fort McHenry challenge coin from Chief Glen Clark and U.S. Park Ranger Sierra Daniels which I will cherish forever. 

It was now time for rappelling.  We went to a beautiful scenic state park where we hiked a short distance to the area where we would gear up and rappel from a rock face off a mountain.  This was definitely a larger rock face then the one we previously rappelled in November of last year in the Wissahickon.  Again I was feeling nervous.  The support of the Pro Rangers prevailed once again and I geared up and made my way down the cliff.  It was absolutely an amazing experience and not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The Pro Rangers were working as a team and that would be put to the ultimate test.  We went to the Ohiopyle to go white water rafting.  These were seriously some of the best moments of my life.  I can not explain how fun it truly was.  We picked our own teams and jumped into a raft to plow through the rapids and down the river.  Our raft was number 608 and we had Supervisor Mark Howard as our experienced rafter.  As you can see on our faces we were having a blast and together as a team we conquered the wrath of the powerful rapids.  Pro Ranger Jess Cooper overcame many fears as well and I give her kudos for her upliftitng spirit that day.

During our stay at Leadership Camp we were given the opportunity to visit a very special National Monument.  The Flight 93 site was a very breath taking and humbling place.  We were given a tour by an interpretative ranger and were able to go where the general public is prohibited.  It was nice to be able to pay our respects to heroes that defended our nation.  Chief Steve Clark surprised all the Pro Rangers sharing insightful thoughts about our futures in the Pro Ranger Program.

The final dinner consisted of a BBQ and our teams conducted some relay races with canoes.  After that we had the chance to do a "no rules" canoe race with our team of choice.  Jackie Innella and Amy Borch were on my team and we powerhoused it all the way across the pond and to the finish line in first place.  The founder of the camp, T.S. Jones, who is also recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corp, blessed us with his presence at the BBQ.  T.S. Jones discussed with us the concept of MEPS which stands for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being.  He shared his words of wisdom and we were very grateful that he came to speak with us. 

 The experience would have to sadly come to an end.  This camp was a great way to end an eventful and rewarding summer internship.  If some of the Pro Rangers were not as close before camp, I feel that after this experience we became one whole unit.  I made friendships that I will have for a lifetime.  I also have mentors I will have with me throughout my career and I could not ask for anything better.  Even a Pro Ranger alumni, Aaron, came to show his support.  Special thanks to our leaders: Supervisor Mark Howard, Supervisor Dave Ballam, Chief Will Reynolds, Chief Kim Coast, Chief Glen Clark, Chief Mark Dowdle, U.S. Park Ranger Sierra Daniels, Dr. McGarvey, Dr.  Luongo, Mr. and Mrs. Sweet.  I can not forget to give a huge thank you to our awesome camp instructors as well!


After this summer I am totally hooked on the Pro Ranger Program!  When anyone ever asks me about my summer, I always refer them to the blog because sometimes pictures speak louder than words.  Classes are starting soon but I can not stop thinking about what exciting event is next for the program.  I can not get enough of this program.  I live, breath and sleep the Pro Ranger Program.  So if anyone is even slightly interested in the program I would tell them to go for it because this program is amazing and gives you an array of opportunities. 
Hooked on the Pro Ranger Program!

Farewell for now but my gut tells me that this is only the beginning of more great experiences for me in the future of the Pro Ranger Program!

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