By Rob Calame, Adventure Manager
Summer is upon us, friends! The arrival of this busy new season goes hand in hand with sunshine, BBQ’s, beach days, and more! For us here in the mountains it also means a few weeks of training for our new staff in preparation for the thousands of guests we serve each summer. Though a daunting task, this season of training has continually proven itself to be one of my favorite times of the year.
There is something special about being given the opportunity to spend a solid week working side by side with a group of young adults, all the while teaching, coaching, and imparting as much knowledge as possible in an effort to prepare them for the months to come. There are few things like witnessing that “Ah ha!” moment when something just clicks in a person’s brain and you know that they not only understand how to do something but more importantly, the “why” behind it.
This past week we were training staff on our Sequoia Adventure Course. The course is essentially a large obstacle course, suspended about 30-80 feet up in the redwoods with breath-taking views of the trickling creek and lush forest below. In addition to its gorgeous location, the Sequoia Adventure Course offers a variety of activities with a wide range of difficulty and therein lays its true beauty. One minute you may be relaxing in a large cargo net, and the next you could have the opportunity to leap for a hanging rope like the king of the jungle with your heart ready to pound right out of your chest. The element of choice our guests are given in regard to which activities they choose to attempt or not on our Sequoia Adventure Course can be an amazing teaching tool for all ages, especially when the choices guests make don’t always work out the way they were expecting them to.
A key part of our course training revolves around the concept of assisting guests when they find themselves in situations they just can’t seem to get out of on their own. Sometimes that assistance comes in the form of an encouraging or instructional word, and other times it may mean providing some physical support with a hand or even some other helpful piece of gear. Regardless, guests are usually very apologetic and quite sheepish when finding themselves in such situations, especially when the physical support is needed and the rescue gear comes out. During the rescue portions of our training, I found myself cautioning our staff over and over with this bit of information; “when going out to assist a guest on an activity, their first words will almost always be ‘I’m sorry.’” No matter how adventurous or physically fit they may be; no matter how nervous or justifiably scared they are, you will almost always hear a profuse apology as soon as you get out on the line with them. Saying this to our staff over and over got me thinking though; how true is that for all of us in life? We often find ourselves in new and unfamiliar situations, and yet we have such a hard time giving ourselves the grace to make mistakes and then learn from them.
This idea of grace can make all the sense in the world when dealing with others, and yet when it comes to how we handle ourselves, grace can be the most elusive of concepts. Our world can move so quickly and be so incredibly busy that we forget or ignore the fact that we are always continuing to grow and learn in our own lives. We have a tendency to put such high expectations on ourselves in terms of our work, our families, and even our faith that it makes it impossible to succeed by our standards. It’s almost as if we stack the deck against ourselves. Whether it be the desire to have a picture perfect family with the most well-behaved kids in the neighborhood or the notion that you should be able to flawlessly traverse a vertical cargo net hanging 80 feet up in the air on your first attempt, we don’t give ourselves the grace we need, and more importantly, the grace God calls us to. And there, high up in a redwood tree in the middle of my rescue training with 14 young adults, I was reminded that it’s not our standards that mean a thing, but rather it’s God’s standards that mean everything.
In our busy culture today it is incredibly difficult for us to accept God’s grace and the love that he so freely gives. Where is He calling you to give grace today?