The Ranger Program is a unique leadership adventure program that both overnight camps host. This program does not start off with the campers’ arrival to camp, it starts with weeks of training before the summer even begins. All of the ranger leaders arrive at camp two weeks before the campers and undergo a series of trainings and certifications. They receive such trainings as wilderness first aid, back country skills, boating, CPR, AED, and lifeguarding. They even learn bivouac skills which includes learning how to build a fire and a shelter quickly. The Rocks and Rafts leaders also receive an additional week of training in order to become challenge course certified!
After the campers arrive and meet their counselors, they jump into their training. They learn about the various tools they will be using like how to use their stove, how to seal a dry bag, and how to set up their tent. They also receive paddling training and participate in teambuilding activities. Lastly, they go on a mock hike and the day before they leave for their adventure, they prep all of the meals they will be taking with them. Here are the two different Ranger programs that campers embark on:
Boots and Boats
This trip is not co-ed and the different groups start out on separate ends of the trip. The girls are bussed to Kittatinny Access on the Appalachian Trail where they hike to Sunrise Mountain, the second highest point in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the boys are bussed to the access point in Matamoras, Pennsylvania, wherein they ride down the class two rapids to Kittatinny Access. It is about midway through the trip that the groups meet and change places. Now the boys are hiking up Sunrise Mountain while the girls are white water rafting! After both groups are done, they are bussed back to camp. An important aspect of this trip is that everyone works hard to push themselves to accomplishing a goal.
Rocks and Rafts
This trip is co-ed and the group is bussed to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where they make their way through class two white water rapids for a few days. From there, they are bussed to Tohickon Valley where they set up camp in Ralph Stover State Park. While there, they rock climb in High Rocks Park and after a few days, they are bussed back to camp. The aim of this trip is to create a sense of wonder and to push campers outside of their comfort zones.
Once the groups get back to camp, there is the Ranger Barbeque where the groups meet up, eat and share stories. Later on, there is the Eagle Feather Ceremony where everyone receives a feather for something they did on the trip. From there, the different groups have different awards. The Rocks and Rafts trip chooses one camper who receives The Tomahawk, which is given to the camper who best displayed leadership qualities and the four core values. The Boots and Boats group gives out two different awards, the Blue/Green Paddle, and the Ranger Merit Chief. The Ranger Merit Chief is the camper who best displayed survivor skills on the trip, while the Blue/Green Paddle is given to the camper who best displayed the four core values. At the end of each summer, a paddle is hung up in each camp’s dining hall with the name of each camper who won an award on it.
Studies have shown that children need a lot more to expand upon themselves. The average radius of play used to be one mile from one’s house, but now that radius has diminished to only five hundred feet. This means that on average, children only go a maximum of five hundred feet away from their house to play. These trips can instill wonder in children and allow for exploration and safe risks. Through climbing, rafting, hiking, cooking, and camping, it gives the campers a chance to step up and prove what they can do. Most importantly, it allows for children to find the superheroes in themselves, and discover something new about themselves. In the Ranger Program, each day is different from the day before it and they never do the same day twice, but by the end of the trip, you’ll have made lifelong friends and long lasting memories.