From the moment you drive onto camp property, one fact is evident: camp is a place to encounter the outdoors. In an age where youth are very much consumed with media, this aspect of camp is vital. The outdoors provides girls with ample opportunities for growth. A wilderness setting enables girls to experience their Creator, exercise their bodies, and expand their skill sets. One avenue through which this can be achieved is the Outdoor Living Skills (OLS) program. While Pathfinders and Trailblazers (grades 2-6) are required to take an OLS class during their week at camp, OLS activities are open to all campers.
As I approached my second year of serving as the Outdoor Living Skills Specialist at camp this past summer, I desired to improve the OLS program. To do this, I wrote new lesson plans for the four activities that encompass OLS: Campcraft, Hiking, Orienteering, and Outdoor Cookery. Here is a glimpse of what occurred in OLS in 2017:
In Campcraft, girls worked with a partner to create their own campsites over the course of the week. While the class varied from week to week, elements of the campsites included tarp tents, nature signs, hand-washing stations, and wilderness showers! Campers also learned the clove hitch, constrictor knots, and pocket knife use and safety. Take a look at some of the shelters here!
One of my goals in writing new lesson plans was to use the program to help girls in their walks with the Lord. This was especially carried out in Hiking. Each day, girls hiked a different route and participated in an accompanying activity. These activities consisted of a nature matching game, nature scavenger hunt, prayer walk, and map drawing. During another project, campers wrote about an item in nature that symbolized their relationship with God and then buried the object on camp property.
Orienteering is a somewhat obscure activity that doesn’t receive much attention. It’s a sport that involves cross-country running and navigation using a map and compass. In the spring, I participated in a local orienteering meet so that I could gain first-hand experience and increase my knowledge of the sport. Orienteering class consisted of activities that related to learning compass and map skills, as well as pace count, which culminated in a timed meet on the last day (complete with bibs and crowns of leaves!). After the meet, we read 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 and discussed the importance of focusing on gaining the eternal prize rather than earthly success.
We also introduced new recipes, in addition to a new method of cooking, in Outdoor Cookery. Girls learned how to make solar ovens out of pizza boxes to cook pizza or nachos (although, to be honest, we really needed more time and more sun, but it was a lesson learned). Campers used three different tools—sticks, pie irons, and tinfoil—to make treats over the fire. Also, every girl had the opportunity to light a match!
I plan to continue to make adjustments to the OLS program in order to provide an even better experience for the girls. I am thankful to God for each and every camper I was able to serve this past summer in the great outdoors!
Amber “Chicky” Pollard is a CILT graduate who served on staff at camp as a Junior Counselor in 2015 and as the OLS & Fishing Specialist in 2016 and 2017. She resides in Massachusetts and is currently an online student of Appalachian Bible College, an assistant teacher at a Christian ballet school, and a volunteer in the children’s ministry at her church.