Tag Archives: Adventure

Take Summer Camp Home with You

The time has come for summer camp to end. It’s been full of adventures, silliness, and memories. But that doesn’t  mean that it has to be gone from your hearts forever. Here are a few ways to keep living the camp life style even as the new school year comes rolling on in.summer camp

Sing and play often. You made a bunch of new friends, have tons of inside jokes, and learned a ton of new songs and games. An easy way to keep the spirit of camp alive is to pay it forward. Teach your friends back at home the songs and games. In no time at all it’ll feel like you are breathing that mountain air again!

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Turn those new camp friends into lifelong friendships. A great way to help make that happen is by being each other’s pen pal. Sit down a write out a thoughtful letter. Writing by hand not only allows you to think longer about the person, but it takes more time, energy, thought, and meaning than just a simple text message.

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Reminisce about camp. Take out those pictures, sit down with friends or family, and tell them all about your crazy adventure. As you tell the silly, crazy, and fantastic stories, more details may come to light that you may have overlooked the first time.

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Follow AstroCamp on our journey. We are on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We post fun science videos and pictures of space and camp life. If you ever feel like camp is too far away from your heart, just look us up online and remember that AstroCamp is always right around the corner!

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Experiencing Nature Hikes at AstroCamp

When campers come to AstroCamp, the cool classes and challenge of the ropes course are just part of the benefits. With our camp located right next to the San Bernardino National Forest, students can gain a better appreciation for nature; made stronger by engaging in the day/night hike and wilderness survival courses.

There are several hiking trails nearby students and campers can follow with their instructor, but the most common one is an offshoot of the nearby fire road. Students don’t just learn from being out in nature, but actually learn about the things they’re passing along the way. After their initial climb, there’s a quick water break where students learn about two of the most common trees we have in and around camp: the manzanita and the Jeffrey pine.

The manzanita, seen here, is also called the “zombie tree” because of its special adaptation to the desert climate. Sections of its body die and the bark shrinks back in periods of low rainfall, but these are revitalized once the rain returns. Any hiker learns that while its name may come from the small fruit it produces, anyone eating them will get sick. The Jeffrey pine draws students in because of a chemical inside it that smells like butterscotch, but that chemical is actually toxic and quite flammable.

From there, the hike diverges to a narrow trail splitting off from the fire road. Along the way, there are many opportunities to see nature in action, like trees filled with acorns by woodpeckers, hoping to keep them from squirrels, or ivy taking over the oak tree above.

While hikers are looking down, making sure they don’t trip on roots or leave the path, the Coulter pines above hold a surprise. Coulter pine cones are HUGE, growing over a foot and weighing between four and ten pounds on average. The trail avoids the drop zone for these behemoths, which are nicknamed “widowmakers” for obvious reasons.

A common stopping point on the trail looks over to Lily Rock and also happens to be a great echo spot. It’s hard to demonstrate echoes in a classroom, so this is just one more unique experience to our hiking classes.

At the top, we’ve reached an overlook for all of May Valley. This is a great time to sit and just reflect on everything around you. During the night hikes, groups often have moments of silence up here to just reflect and look up at the stars. It’s one of the experiences students say had the biggest impact on them during their stay at camp.

Sadly, we can’t stay up the mountain all day. Once everyone’s had some time to rest, reflect, drink water, and maybe play some games with their instructors, it’s back down the trail to camp.

Facing Your Fears

Going to camp for the first time can be nerve wracking for some kids; they’re in a new place, away from their family, and facing all new challenges. Luckily, there are ways to face these fears and come out of camp stronger and more confident than you went in.

The easiest way to become comfortable with a new place is familiarity; the more you get to know it, the less intimidating it becomes. The first step in that familiarity is the tour every camper takes, but it also just comes from spending time here at camp. A spot on camp may seem scary at first, but any fun activity taking place there begins to replace the fear associated with that location with a fond memory.

Homesickness is one of the most common issues students face on camp, and with good reason. For many campers, AstroCamp is their first overnight camp at all, and feeling separated from your normal support system can be really isolating and frightening. That’s where the counselors and other campers come into play, however. The counseling staff are there to help campers through the struggles of camp, and the cabin groups quickly form friendships that can last for years to come. They may start out feeling isolated, but it’s hard to stay isolated for long at camp.

The other big place campers deal with fear is on our ropes course, even those not normally afraid of heights. Our motto here is “Challenge by Choice,” meaning a camper only has to do what they feel comfortable with during a ropes course element. Often, instructors will have them set a goal before starting to climb, and then once they reach it will ask them if they’d like to push forward.

Often, taking that first step past what they thought they were able to do will embolden them to keep moving and complete the element, achieving something they thought was impossible for them. This experience teaches them how to face their fears and push themselves in a healthy way, an experience they will take from camp and be able to apply for the rest of their lives.

Adventure Lessons

To most natives of Southern California, AstroCamp’s hometown of Idyllwild is a quaint tourist destination. Some are drawn to this mile-high haven’s local businesses, secluded vacation homes, and panoramic vistas. Then there are those for whom the mountains aren’t a background, but a playground.

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Idyllwild holds a storied place in the development of rock climbing. Lilly Rock, an imposing buttress on the side of nearby Tahquitz Peak, is the birthplace of the Yosemite Decimal System, and the the greater Tahquitz area is known as Little Yosemite in the traditional climbing community. World-class hiking trails, including a stretch of the PCT, criss-cross the majestic San Jacinto range. An extensive network of fire roads doubles as a resource for mountain bikers.

AstroCamp clients experience this natural playground under the guidance of adventure instructors as passionate as they are capable. They learn to climb, for instance, from teachers who have explored historic granite from Tahquitz to Joshua Tree and beyond. Day hikes to the top of the mountain are led by instructors whose idea of a great weekend involves backpacking or peak-bagging.

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Our many outdoor programs are united by a common philosophy: challenge by choice. We know that everyone comes to camp with unique life experiences and attitudes. We’re here to give campers opportunities to meaningfully expand their horizons in a fun, safe space.

No matter your comfort level or skill level, AstroCamp has just the adventure for you!

Written By: Caela Barry

Why Practice Challenge by Choice?

 

Fear can be a good thing. It’s a warning system that often keeps us out of harm’s way. Sometimes, though, it gets in the way of great experiences. Knowing the difference between useful and counterproductive fear– and controlling the latter– is a skill that develops with time and training. Ropes course challenges allow campers to practice recognizing and managing fear in a low risk, high reward setting.

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Faced with an intimidating activity, some students immediately see the opportunity for growth. Others need more support. Instructors trained in coaching nervous campers emphasize that it’s OK to be scared, and that fear doesn’t always have to be a deal breaker. They honor kids’ right to set personal boundaries while encouraging them to push their limits in a safe, fun-centered environment.

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Once the decision is made, the payoff is huge. On the zipline, for instance, kids decompress from facing their fears by flying smoothly through the air!
Written by: Caela Barry

WELCOME TO ASTRO BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampsummer.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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