For those of you who aren’t familiar with Change the Game, we are a program that focuses on empowerment through movement. Whether that movement involves physical activities (like hiking, biking, or rock wall climbing), team-building, or serving the community, the focus is on our actions and how those actions provide the momentum to keep us moving forward. In short: We move, we give, we change the game. This blog series will provide you a closer look at the variety of experiential learning activities that play a crucial role in developing these young leaders both individually and as community members.
This past January, Change the Game traveled to a Camp and Retreat Center in Hopwood, PA, located south of the city near Uniontown. Part of what makes the experience at Jumonville so incredible is that you are in a mountain top setting with unforgettable views, the best of which are at the peak of a hike to the Cross of Christ. The kids bunked together, we ate our meals as a team, and we participated in some exhilarating activities (including hiking and rock wall climbing) over the two days we spent at the camp.
Rock wall climbing in the Ben Cromer Adventure Center challenged each of us not only physically, but mentally as well. There were a variety climbs available during our three hour session and by the end, there weren’t many ropes that went untouched. The students (and coaches) had to exhibit grit and strength to make their way up the wall climbs, many making it to the top more than once. With only two climbers permitted to ascend the wall at a time, it was heartwarming to see the remainder of the team rally below the climbers, providing them non-stop encouragement along the way up. Not one climber gave up, and it was inspiring to watch them continue to push through no matter how tired they were.
As always, our trips involve hikes as a team. They allow us the time to soak in the beauty of nature. Not one hike is exactly like another, which makes it so special. The most amazing sight, though, is seeing each student so in awe of their surroundings. Sometimes you forget what joy looks like until you see other people experience it. Jumonville provided us with moss-filled paths, full of beautiful boulders and frozen ponds. The weather was pretty perfect for a winter day (in the 50’s and a little bit of sun peaking through), which allowed for the kids to end their hike with a trek up the hillside to the Cross of Christ. The view from the top is indescribable, leaving the kids speechless.
Aside from our physical adventures this weekend, the kids took part in some activities focusing on building effective communication skills, rested relaxation, and team-building. They also uncovered information on their summer trip by listening to crazy facts about the state in order to guess where we would be going. After some laughs, the kids uncovered that we were heading to Alaska to visit Denali National Forest. “Alaska or Bust!”
One thing that we value with all of our trips and adventures is the focus on doing things as a team. We eat as a team, we work as a team, and we experience the expected and unexpected as a team. This weekend, we reached new heights by climbing them and not letting them hold us back. Each weekend we spend together brings us closer as a team and as the kids say, “Change the Game is family”.