Sunday, July 23, 2017

fear, courage, and support on the high ropes

I have a kid who isn't a big fan of heights. It doesn't inspire terror, but it's not Isaac's favorite either. He has taken the walk of shame down the high dive a time or two in his life because it's just not his cup of tea. He and his sister arrived back home today from a week at camp. They do amazing things like white water raft on the Arkansas River, dance parties, skits based on biblical teachings with a strong dose of crazy and fun, hikes in the glorious surrounding mountains, and a high ropes course. Yep. High ropes course. He had the chance to do it last year and chose not to, but he really wanted to go for it this year. We'd talked about it, and I thought he'd probably do it, but there was also the possibility of a "walk of shame" once he got to the top.
white water rafting++
Our pastor spent the week at camp with the confirmation kids, so I got photographic proof that he did the high ropes course. I was so proud of him, especially after seeing the pictures because they do some freaky things up there! I could tell that it took some courage to do it. Once he was home, he told me the rest of the story.

The high ropes course is, obviously, about the challenge of high ropes, but is also a team building exercise. To that end, they go up in groups of four, two females and two males. Isaac said he enthusiastically chose to participate in the high ropes activity, saw it from the ground, and eagerly climbed the ladder. Of course, things look muuuuuuch higher from that angle, so he got a little nervous and second guessed his decision, but pulled it together and joined his group for safe, well-tethered, high ropes fun in the mountains 40 feet off the ground.
Smiles with a tinge of what the heck!
After the initial gut check, things were fine. Actually, things were very fun. . . right up until they weren't anymore. The snafu happened at the end of the course when the only way down is a zipline. There is a counselor there, plus two other people whose sole job is ropes course attendant. Isaac got to the zipline and was like, "nuh uh. nope." The other three people in his group went down. The group behind them went down. Eventually all other kids on the course had gone down, and still he sat. The director of the camp was down on the ground, but joined him up there once the other kids were done, keeping him calm, talking him through it, and encouraging him. His whole cabin was encouraging him and cheering for him. Eventually they had to head to lunch, and still he sat.
I think this part of the course is called islands. creepy!
When Audrey say her brother's cabin come back without her brother, she went over to his counselor to check on him. Hearing he was still at the ropes course, she asked her counselor for permission to go check on him. Granted permission, she ran over. She got there and shouted hello just as the camp director, who was standing behind Isaac, lifted him up, carefully held him over the edge, and let go. As soon as he was free of the ledge, Audrey saw Isaac beam with pride and enjoyment. It took an hour, literally, but he did it. With help and encouragement, he did it.

At our house, we talk about 20 seconds of courage. I have a few kids who are slow to warm to others. New situations intimidate them. We talk about how the initial leap of trying something new, talking to someone new, stepping out of your comfort zone is the most difficult, but after you take the leap, it's not so bad. In fact, it's usually enjoyable and exciting. Well, this particular situation required more than 20 seconds of courage, but it was certainly worth the wait. Isaac looks forward to doing it again next year now that he has the initial fear and success under his belt. As the camp director told him, "Once you do this, you'll feel like you can do anything."

Isaac and Audrey walked to the lunch area, and the kids from Isaac's cabin were still supporting and encouraging him by clapping and saying how glad they were that he did it. Man, I wish I could have seen that. My mama heart bursts that he was so supported and loved by his sister, his peers, his counselors, and everyone on the ropes course. There was no embarrassment or shame, only support and kindness.

I read the news, and I get smoke out of my ears angry at humanity. Thank God for the many reminders of the kindness and love of people. Those beautiful attributes were certainly on display at camp last week.

This little moment is a microcosm of life. We are never promised an easy life. We are promised a God who will provide our daily bread, who will provide people along the way to love and support us, and who will carry our burden when it becomes too much for us to carry alone. Isaac felt and experienced all of those things on the ropes course through the love and caring of God's people.


++All photos courtesy of our loving and welcoming pastor.


  1. What a cool moment and lesson! Camp is such a great way for kids to grow.

  2. How great for him! And, are you Lutheran? I am and would love to hear about CC via email. We're considering it.