The Machon Adventure Program is one of the three different leadership development and staff-in-training programs offered for Camp Coleman’s rising 12th graders. After several years of using North Carolina’s Outward Bound program for the Adventure Week, the Coleman team made the decision to create its own Adventure Week program. This new program combines outdoor education that allows exploration of personal potential along with learning what it means to be a Coleman staff member and developing skills necessary to be an effective role model and mentor to our campers.

For 6 nights in early July, 11 Machon, along with Nate Yaeger, Samantha Hartz and myself, set up our tents at Black Rock Mountain State Park’s Tsatu-Gi pioneer campsite. The week outside allowed everyone to gain valuable outdoor living skills, learn how to live and work together as a group, as well as be happy and have fun outside their comfort zones. Outdoor adventure experiences included training and certification in Wilderness First Aid, multiple hikes in three different Georgia state parks, learning and implementing the 7 Principals of Leave No Trace*, Geocaching, ziplining (almost, until lightening forced us off the course – health & safety first!), campfire & camp stove cooking, bucket showers, swimming at the base of a waterfall and two days whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River! We pushed our limits both physically and emotionally and it was incredible!

We spent time together around the campfire; sitting on the porch of our primitive cabin while the rains came down; and on our minibus as we drove to our different adventure locations. Conversation included how we can work to make Coleman a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community; challenges of being a teenager today and the various social and societal pressures that Machon all face; and what it means to be a staff member/mentor/role model at camp. There was also plenty of singing, shrieks (from bugs & spiders) & laughter as we enjoyed our time together.

*The principles and techniques associated with the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace (Plan Ahead & Prepare; Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces; Dispose of Waste Properly; Leave What You Find; Minimize Campfire Impacts; Respect Wildlife; Be Considerate of Others) help individuals to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing their impact to the environment as well as on the experiences of others around them.

One of the most special moments of the week took place as we were talking about Leave No Trace and how it relates to Camp Coleman. Our Machon came to the realization that the 7 Principles are all rooted in Camp Coleman’s 4 core values of Kavod (Respect), Shalom (Peace), Kehillah (Community) & Chesed (Kindness) showing that their experiences growing up at Coleman have been preparing them for their Machon Adventure all along. 7 Principles + 4 Core Values = 11 Amazing Machon Adventurers!