Apachi Old Town’s Risk & Rewards
As a parent or teacher, how many times in a day do you say to a child, “Be careful” or “Watch what you’re doing” or “Stop, you’re going to get hurt”? We are the ultimate risk managers, professional watchers, injury prevention specialists and worriers about all things potentially dangerous. We are the closest thing to human bubble wrap cushioning our kids, and with good reason.
Everyone can agree that safety is always a top priority. We have a responsibility to keep all kids as safe as possible. But, with our vigilance about safety, how do we teach kids or allow kids to take risks?
This is where our newest camp, Apachi Old Town, comes in. The program at Apachi Old Town redefines creativity, teamwork, sports and adventure at camp by expanding opportunities for risk taking through play. More than just feeling excitement and thrill, risky play lets kids test boundaries, feel uncertainty and discover their capabilities. By taking chances, kids uncover on their own what they like and don’t like; they find their own limits.
When conceptualizing how Apachi Old Town would maintain the spirit and warmth people expect from an Apachi camp while also offering an innovative, new program, we intentionally created opportunities for facilitated risks and exploration:
The high ropes course and climbing wall not only appear “risky” based on height, but they also challenge campers to problem solve and negotiate obstacles.
Creating in the new design lab is fraught with the risk of failure, but with self-directed curiosity, imagination and critical thinking, campers will experiment with ideas and try new things.
Sea kayaking and boating will push at a camper’s envelope of safety with the added benefit of experiencing teamwork and perseverance.
The adults at camp know and understand the degree to which these types of risks and many more are mediated by safety measures, safety equipment, necessary precautions and specialized training, but, for campers, these adventures test their boundaries and present uncertainty. This is central to the Apachi Old Town experience. Our staff will supervise and provide the opportunities and campers attempt, succeed and fail. Campers will be given the space to figure out for themselves what level of risk feels right. They’ll tell us what’s awesome and exciting and what crosses the line into being scary. We relish in knowing that this will be different for every child, and our staff will be there to support them every step along the way.
Approaching safe risks in this manner is something that overnight camps like Camp Chi have been doing for decades. What we’ve learned from watching how this works in other camp settings ensures us that kids grow and mature through risky play with camp staff as non-hovering safety nets. Campers at Apachi Old Town will participate a variety of traditional and innovative activities all designed to build resilient kids through adventure, problem solving, play and, most importantly, fun.
If you want to start on this path before camp begins, we suggest adopting one of these alternatives to What to Say to Kids Instead of “Be Careful” as a way to get kids thinking about what they are doing instead of just putting a stop to the action.