Our final Wild Skills program for the 2016 Summer season wrapped up on October 15th in Park City at the Utah Olympic Park. The event in Park City was the largest Wild Skills camp SheJumps has hosted, with 60 girls between the ages of 6-15.
The magic of the Utah Olympic Park as a venue hits you in a couple of different ways. First of all, as a training ground for Olympic athletes, it’s not uncommon to run into athletes during their training regiment. While it was technically off-season for many of the activities at the park, you can still get a sense of Olympic Glory just by being there. A host venue for the 2002 Winter games, the Utah Olympic Park is now open year-round to the public with activities like bobsledding, zip-lines, extreme tubing, water-ramping, and ropes courses. SheJumps’ vision to host the event at this iconic park is rooted in the desire to empower the girls by being up-close with something as historic as an Olympic venue and, as was the case for this event, as big as the Olympic ski jumps!
The camp was organized around 4 stations, with 4 groups coordinated by color/age:
Pink Group! Ages 6-7
Orange Group! Ages 7-8
Green Group! Ages 9-11
Yellow Group! Ages 12-15
Station 1: Navigation – At the top of the K120 Ski Jump! Station 2: Leave No Trace/The 10 Essentials/First Aid Station 3: Shelter Building Station 4: Ropes Course
It was a brisk morning with a beautiful sunrise as parents came to drop their girls off for the start of the day. As per usual, Wild Skills starts with the colorful teams decking themselves out in flagging tape respective to their team color. It’s a very, very technical process.
Registration Team (from left): Intermountain Regional Director Elise Trauscht, Carly Driscoll, and SJ Board Member Lin Heffner
SheJumps Boise Ambassador Stacey Hopstad doing technical flagging tape application!
Registration Packets – each one with a personalized welcome note from volunteers.
Team Orange is ready to take on the day!
Of course we can’t just send these kids off to these classes without a bit of warm-up–Wild Skills director Christy Pelland executes perfectly with “dancercize” moves to get the body moving and faces smiling. We were having so much fun we didn’t get any photos of this–but stay tuned for a fun video.
As one of the most technical skills that SheJumps Wild Skills covers, the curriculum varies greatly between the age groups. We were all surprised at how much the 6 year old group already knew about compasses.
SJ volunteer Whitney helps a caped Girafficorn participant learn how to use a compass.
We used a colorful parachute as a game for the younger group. The teachers would shout a direction and the girls had to run to the correct area on the parachute as if it were a giant compass.
Other groups were able to take bearings and walk around outside with their new-found compass skills!
SJ’s own volunteer superstar Cristy Watson (Web Director, former SE Regional Director) was one of the navigation teachers. She flew out from Virginia for the event!
Leave No Trace/The 10 Essentials/First Aid
This station had a lot of information to cover in a short period of time, but the volunteers were really organized and did a fantastic job of getting through it all. The beauty of how Wild Skills has been developed, per Christy Pelland’s vision, is that everything is taught on the basis of “using what you have.” So, depending on the group’s attention span (somehow acutely related to their age group!), the activities varied but everyone walked away with a strong sense of safe and smart ways to act in the outdoors.
Hands on practice for First Aid with Utah Ambassador Judie F.
Adventure Medical Kits donated small first aid kits, button compasses, and whistles for all the participants to take home. Thank you AMK!
Here is freeskiing legend and women’s sports icon Jen Hudak going over some of the Leave No Trace principles.
Probably the most challenging station to run from this particular venue, Shelter building quickly becomes known as “technical fort building” by most of the participants. The groups improvised for lack of trees on the Nordic Flats (area below the ski jumps) by using 5-gallon buckets with rocks and large branches sticking out to tie down their shelters. Once again, the idea of “using what you have” came into play!
This part of the day was the most entertaining and challenging for everyone. The Discovery Ropes course is designed for kids ages 6 and up. It includes obstacles that you have to make your way through, all the while being tied in via harness to the cable system. Navigating your way from the bottom and climbing to the top, participants were rewarded with a quick zip-line descent back to the beginning of the course. We saw some tears up there, but almost everyone took the plunge–showing themselves (and all the volunteers) they are capable of anything! It was really heart-warming to see all the girls take the final zip-line–and you could hear cries of “Weeeeee!” from across the park (and a blur of florescent colors as they would whoosh past).