When I was asked to plan girls camp – I started thinking back to my own days at girls camp and what I wish it would’ve been. I always felt like the boys had these fun adventures and we…made crafts. I decided when I was in charge, that would be different. In fact I decided a better name for our Girls Camp would be Adventure Camp. And because of my experience and many years of working at Zion National Park – it proved to be the ideal background for our adventure camp.
We planned an all-day rappelling activity through Birch Canyon as our main adventure. (We gave the girls an option of a shorter rappel day with smaller rappels or a longer day/hike with long rappels – they chose the bigger adventure.) We split the girls and leaders into two groups and sent one group one day and the other group stayed back at camp and had a different experience and then the next day they swapped and the other group went rappelling. I wish we could’ve had our large group of 40 rappel all together, but that was absolutely not an option. We wouldn’t get out before dark with so many people.
Birch Canyon is a dry slot canyon on the east side of Zion and consisted of 11 rappels – 2 of which were over 100 feet and a couple were quite short, more of a down climb. We prepped the girls by taking them out rappelling before camp, but even then there were a couple that were a bundle of nerves – Hallie included. (We did have a couple girls that opted out of rappelling all together based on health and absolute fear – they stayed back at camp both days and helped manage some of the activities the second day.)
I’m pretty sure as we hiked in and landed at the first rappel – several girls were ready to bail. But it wasn’t an option and their only way out was to rappel their way down. How grateful I am that this was the case – if it would’ve been easy to get out of it, half the girls wouldn’t have done it based on fear alone. But they did it, they all lived to tell about it and their sense of pride and accomplishment was one of the highlights.
I was reminded just how much I love rappelling and loved being back in Zion.