Monday, September 07, 2020

YMCA Camp Jackson

This past weekend, our family had the wonderful opportunity to attend family camp at YMCA Camp Jackson near Rye, Colorado.  The came is tucked away in San Isabel National Forest and was surprisingly lush at 8200 feet in elevation.  There is a nearby Boy Scouts camp and Lake Isabel recreation area.

While the camp was founded in 1916, it is surprisingly modern with a gorgeous main lodge, sturdy cabins and functional bath houses.  Each family was assigned a cabin that is designed to sleep up to 14 campers, so it was very spacious.

We checked in on Friday night and were assigned a cabin and allowed to sign up for activities.  They offered canoeing, archery, riflery, high ropes and rock climbing.  A family could sign up for 45 minute time slots.

Saturday morning breakfast was at 8:00 sharp and our camp counselors set up table and families would typically sit together.  They served pancakes and sausage, but offered vegan options as well.  Our first activity was canoeing at nearby Beckwith Reservoir.  It was a very scenic lake and a very calm day.  We paddled around for about 30 minutes and then spent some time skipping stones.

Lunch was served at 12:00 sharp and consisted of chili (again a vegetarian option was available).  We enjoyed lunch and then headed to Archery.  For archery we used 54" recurve bows with a draw weight of 16#.  We were shooting at targets about 10 yards away.  The draw weight was light enough that both my kids could enjoy it.  We never got really good, but by the end, we could all hit the target.

Our next activity was riflery.  We were shooting in the prone position with 0.22 caliber rifles at targets about 25 yards away.  As with archery, the primary objective was safety with a taste for how to operate the implement.  The rifles were configured as bolt action loading one round at a time.  It took everybody a little time to get familiar with how to load a shell, but eventually we all got shots off.  The kids could not hit the target, but explaining how to aim was tricky.

Our final activity for the day was the high ropes course.  In the interest of time, they only had one section open which consisted of scrambling up a 45 foot telephone pole (7' of which was buried underground) to a platform and then taking a "leap of faith" to a trapeze style bar about 5-6' away.   Only me and my first born participated, but it was fun.  For high ropes, we were in climbing harnesses with a chest harness as well.

Dinner that night was served at 5:30 sharp and consisted of burgers.  They had black bean burgers and veggie burgers for the non-meat eaters.  After dinner they had a propane "campfire" with sing-a-longs and skits.  I was very impressed with how animated and enthusiastic the camp counselors were.

Sunday morning breakfast was again served at 8:00 sharp and consisted of ham and eggs.  Our only scheduled activity for the day was rock climbing.  We were introduced to how to tie in and climbing safety and then took turns on a 40-50 foot rock wall.  Both of my daughters and I participated and we all made it up the first wall.  Only my first born took a shot at the second wall and she was not able to finish it.  As we had some extra time, we took another stab at archery and enjoyed it even more the second time.

We finally cleared out our cabin and packed up the car to hit the road and head home.  We were fortunate enough to meet up with friends in Colorado Springs to break up the drive.

I would definitely go to a YMCA camp again.  YMCA is founded in Christian values and the development of spirit, mind and body is universal.  When we go again, I would pack a little differently.  I would bring a sheet, 2 pillows and a blanket instead of 1 pillow and a sleeping bag.  I would also pack snacks, my favorite tea and better hiking shoes.  I would also not bother packing cards or outdoor games, there is already so much to enjoy in the outdoors.

All in all it was super fun and an opportunity to spend time together without the hustle and bustle of life or the constant distraction of electronics.

Another fun perk was that it was organized by parents from our elementary school so we knew nearly everyone there.  That was a real benefit in that the kids could play together and I could enjoy some of the peace and quiet by reading a book.

In the future, we may even find ourselves going to the local rifle range, picking up an archery set to take to Bear Creek Lake or find some some top roping routes nearby.

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