At Tawonga, campers are presented with opportunities to push themselves in a safe and supportive environment. Guided by the ethic of “challenge by choice”, we encourage kids to embrace physical and emotional challenges to help them grow, while encouraging them to make their own choices around these challenges. In circumstances where challenge by choice opportunities arise, campers are reminded that they can take their efforts to the edge of their comfort zone, knowing they never have to go any further than that. In this way, our campers are able to experience a sense of safety, support, and validation while exploring their own boundaries.
A prime example of a place at camp where challenge by choice comes to life is the Challenge Course, which is run by our highly trained Wilderness Leaders. Every bunk in camp has the opportunity to experience the Challenge Course, comprised of 17 different low and high elements housed among the trees. Through teamwork at its best, bunks encourage each other and work together to take on these elements individually and in partners or groups, resulting in tremendous personal growth and a whole lot of fun.
In the morning, campers learn about the ethic of challenge by choice and physical safety precautions, and work together as a bunk to build trust and to collaborate through the challenges of the low elements, which don’t require harnesses and helmets.
Then in the afternoon, campers are introduced to the high elements, strapping on their harnesses and helmets. Each bunk engages with one element and decides how far they would like to take it. With cheers and reassuring words from staff and peers below, many campers find new edges they didn’t know they could reach. Empowered to support each other to push their limits, campers truly embody challenge by choice during these triumphant moments.
Our staff also promote the ethic of challenge by choice in many other camp programs, including during backpacking trips and gender campfires. Below, check out some photos of bunks G-9, G-10, and G-11 campers rocking the challenge course today!
P.S. A significant portion of the Challenge Course was burned down during the 2013 Rim Fire, and thanks to the generosity of many in the Tawonga community through the Rim Fire Relief Fund, the course was rebuilt in the Spring of 2014.