I had intended on spending the day following a ward around, observing their experience to write this blog post. I was assigned to the COPE, or Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience, course, but I soon was in for more than I bargained for.
When I arrived to the telephone pole-like posts and harnesses, I learned that there wasn’t a ward there. Instead, I would be the one climbing around the course.
Just a few weeks ago, I was looking at pictures of this exact high COPE course on Camp Tifie’s Flickr album. I distinctly remember thinking, “I would never do that.” Just a month ago, I rode the ski lift at the Olympic Park in Park City and practically had a heart attack from looking down. I do not like heights.
Nevertheless, I harnessed up, took off my watch and squeaked that I was ready to start climbing. It was a good thing there wasn’t a ward around because of how slow I went, but I went.
The camp staff also took advantage of the ward-less time to climb around themselves. Due to the fact they were far less terrified than I was, their excitement encouraged me. Each time I said something along the lines of “you must think I’m such a baby,” they responded with encouraging phrases like “you’re not going any slower than the Beehives we get up here!”
Since I stood on the platforms longer than I spent walking the course, I had plenty of time to think about those Beehives that crawled around at my same speed. Imaging myself as a Beehive, I don’t know if I would have made it further than climbing in the harness.
Eventually, to my great surprise, I started enjoying myself. I gradually forgot how high up I was and how terrified I could have been. I even climbed to the higher level of the course, something I doubted I would be able to do even as I stood on the lower level, and hopped off the high zip line. I had a blast. I also realized I’m braver than I usually give myself credit for.
I wonder how I would be different if I went to Scout camp as a Beehive. Maybe I wouldn’t had needed one of my leaders to push me off the zip line platform at Girls Camp when I was 14 or maybe I would have lasted longer in our rock climbing Mutual activity when I was 15. While I loved going to Mutual and Girl’s Camp, I was never one to vote on having the high adventure activities.
However, it can be these “out-of-your-comfort-zone” activities that can really make an impact on your life. Recently the General Young Men’s Presidency introduced new guides for leaders to help youth get more out of activities. My favorite is “connect them to heaven.”
For me, a huge connection with heaven comes when I realize I can’t do things on my own. Countless different types of experiences have helped me recognize how much I really need God’s help. As silly as it may sound, climbing around the COPE course was one of these situations. I knew I wasn’t going to find the courage on my own. Looking over the beautiful valley from the top of a platform I didn’t think I could climb up to, I knew Heavenly Father cared about me individually.
After my field trip, I am now grateful that girls, along with the scouts, get a chance to have exciting adventures where they get to discover what they are made of, and what things really matter.
Author: Sarah Nash | Field Service Intern, Utah National Parks Council