Several times this summer, I have taken a bunk of campers to our Teva storage to fit them into backpacks and prepare them for their Galil hike. Each time, the campers had endless questions about how difficult the trail is and whether they will be eaten by a bear. The 8 mile Galil hike has a reputation at Camp Harlam for being either one of the best or worst experiences of the campers’ summer. Being new to camp this year as the Teva supervisor, this past week was the first time I personally watched the campers’ emotions first hand as they left. As they prepared their packs and left for the eight mile journey, they were mostly excited, but fearful as well.
Upon their return, I was surprised by their emotions. I expected some to love it and some to hate it, like I had been told it always was. However, every single camper I talked to was absolutely ecstatic and had a story to tell. They were proud of their adventure. I cannot speak for every camper, but my feeling is that they will forever remember the joys and hardships of their hike, and I have a feeling that the 2nd session campers will have similar experience.
My point here is that going on the Galil hike is not going to turn every camper into lifelong backpackers or survivalists. However, the campers become more resourceful and confident than they were when they left. Without even realizing it, they become more connected with nature and care for the world around them, even if they would rather be playing basketball or swimming in the lake. This is why I believe Teva exists here at Camp Harlam; not to make every camper to want to sleep in a tent every night, but to have the confidence to know they can.