In today's society we have become dependent upon technology to the point that we find ourselves in a place where we take for granted the beauty around us if we notice it at all. Not only does the natural world offer us the ability to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, but it also provides us with a sense of serenity and happiness. At adventure summer camps, teenagers are exposed to the wonders of nature in ways they may not have experienced before. Some benefits may include developing an appreciation for the environment, humanity and each other. At Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp we focus on the powerful connections between our campers and their experiences in the great outdoors. This connection is not just limited to the natural environment around campers; it also includes the culture that is created here at camp and the people around them, and how to be a leader with the goal of acquiring a responsible appreciation for the natural wonders of our awesome planet.
While campers are at Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp they have the opportunity to participate in overnight camping trips and sleep in tents under the stars. These overnights are usually limited to 8 to 12 campers with 2 or 3 staff. They create enriching experiences for a smaller group of campers to be away from the larger camp setting and have a transformative experience in a place of natural wonder and beauty. We operate camping overnights at Raystown Lake for wakeboarding and waterskiing, on the Little Juniata River for canoeing, at Bilger Rocks in Clearfield County for Rock Climbing,and at one of the many state parks within an hour of SMA teenage summer camp. There is something very humbling about taking time to gaze at a night sky full of twinkling stars without the light pollution of cities and towns and gain some perspective about how enormous the universe is and how small our daily dramas in life really are. Or to witness a colorful sunset over the water with new camp friends while a campfire crackles in the back ground. The experience of connecting with the beauty of nature with their new friends at a 2 week teen summer camp in a natural setting away from technology can be especially meaningful for teenagers.
In a recent article in Sierra Club Magazine called “The Science of Awe”, Jake Abrahamson explores how exposure to the awe of nature changes the way people see and experience the world. Abrahamson explains that “powerful experiences in the natural world can move people into state of awe, an emotion that, psychologists are coming to understand, can have profoundly positive effects on people.”
Abrahamson goes on the say, “It happens when people encounter a vast and unexpected stimulus, something that makes them feel small and forces them to revise their mental models of what’s possible in the world. In its wake, people act more generously and ethically, think more critically when encountering persuasive stimuli, like arguments or advertisements, and often feel a deeper connection to others and the world in general. Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else.” Teenagers especially have a tendency towards being self-absorbed, however, experiencing the wonders of nature with a group of people they feel connected to can have a profound effect onthe way they see the world and their place in it.