By Lane Brown, National Alumni Board
I watched my son pedal away on his new bike with little help from me or my husband. He only needed us to hold the seat while he climbed aboard, and then he was off in a hurry. He had gracefully transitioned from a small toddler’s balance bike to what he deemed his “big boy bike with pedals” with little interruption, and we were so proud.
As the parents of two small children, we are in the midst of celebrating “firsts” in all forms, from first steps and words to camping trips and bike rides around the neighborhood. As we’ve watched our children embrace the pure joy of expanding thought and action, we can instantly recognize – as can all parents – that moment when uncertainty melts into discovery and exalted understanding. I remembered, as I watched my son pedal around the park, the exact feeling I had so many years ago when my training wheels came off and I was on my way.
Being sentimental, I started to think about how soon my son will be heading toward other firsts, including his first session as a camper at Sky Valley Ranch. Okay, truth be told, this is still years away. But when I last blinked he was learning to roll over, so the scenario of dropping him at a cabin door and hugging him goodbye has already played in my head.
My family has been to the A/U Ranches to visit, and I have regaled them with stories of my own firsts at camp: tackling the high ropes course, hauling a 60-lb backpack on a four-day backcountry trip, running down the slope into Round-Up Ranch to complete the Denny Creek trail run with the Conquerors. These joys are etched deep into my experience during my years as a camper and staff member.
And beyond camp, DiscoveryBound Outreach delivered more firsts for me throughout the year, maintaining the momentum of what I learned through my A/U Ranches experiences. As an adult chaperone for multiple national events and as a local teen chapter coordinator, I was able to witness firsthand when teens made inspiring discoveries – and then realized it didn’t have to happen only at camp, since good is available to us everywhere.
The A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound Outreach chapter and national programs set the stage for firsts on a near-daily basis. The testimonies, gratitude and healing that rise from all those adventures last a lifetime. They might take shape as a teen making new friends on a weekend ski adventure, another packing their bags for a couple of weeks in the Colorado Rockies, or an adult enjoying Mini Camp and realizing that those precious firsts never have to stop!
This coming year, instead of plotting my traditional New Year’s resolutions, I will remember those groundbreaking experiences that have shaped me and look ahead to a year of discovery.
As we welcome in 2017, here’s to a year of abundant firsts.