4n4 2015

It’s always exciting to be a part of 4n4.  Every year is brand new, even though the trip itself has the same itinerary.  This year, 4n4 is once again split up into two trips.  Having two smaller trips makes everything more exciting.  The kids say that the trip is the climax of their summers at Camp Echo Lake thus far.  It’s something surreal that they can hardly believe they are finally experiencing.

The kids have said that it will be strange to not be at camp most of the summer, but there was no sadness upon leaving, only excitement, because they are still with all of the friends they have made over the years.

The two main activities that we have done so far are rafting and climbing.  During the climbing trip, the campers belayed each other, which gave them a very real sense that their lives were in each other’s hands.  They had to immediately learn to trust each other in any situation.  Many of the campers have found new friends and have developed a newfound respect for their peers.  During the rafting trip, every camper had to do their part for the raft to smoothly navigate the rapids.  This gave campers a great opportunity to shine and truly become part of a team.  It wasn’t about strength or muscle; it was about teamwork, focus and determination.

Down time on the trip usually produces the funniest moments.  The planned activities on the trip have been fun, but the best stories so far have come from the van rides, end of the day circle-ups and campfires.  The kids and staff have developed inside jokes, deepened relationships and bonded as an entire group.

It’s hard to compare each destination to your expectations because, upon arrival, your expectations are completely blown away, especially because the majority of the group has never been to any of these places.  Even though they have heard the stories from previous trips, stories do not compare to reality, when they experience things firsthand.

The kids are particularly good at picking out specific moments as the highlight of the trip, from overcoming fear of heights to encouraging and supporting each other during rock climbing.  The van rides have been very popular as well, as the kids share stories and talk about everything from their love of music to their favorite snacks.

On our last day of white water rafting, everyone was in agreement about their favorite moment…jumping off of the boats in slow-moving waters and having a splash war as we swam in the river.  It was amazing to see those campers that were apprehensive about rafting overcome their fear as the trip progressed.  With the support of their friends, they found the courage to enjoy the moment and have fun with the experience.

The campers have grown together over the course of many summers, but always in the same environment.  Overwhelmingly, they say that this trip has already made them much closer as a group.  Now they are out of their respective comfort zones and trying new things, they need to support and encourage each other more than ever, and that is exactly what is happening.