• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
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  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
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  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
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  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
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  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
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  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
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  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
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  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Of Choss and Lions: Honnold, Wright and Birdwell in Kenya
    Of Choss and Lions: Honnold, Wright and Birdwell in Kenya
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
     



    TNB: Summer Camp

    17-Mar-2015
    By Hayden Carpenter

    Top of the tower. Photo courtesy of Pat Mullarkey.Maine. Land of endless pine forest, pristine lakes and parkin’ in the dooryard—a refuge of campfire tales and summer friendships. A place where a kid can still be a kid, where parents can ship them off for the summer without any worries. The perfect place for American Summer Camp—and seasonal work.

    As a climber, I found the opportunity too good to pass up. Free housing, free laundry service, three free meals a day. I would be teaching kids to climb at one of America’s premier (read: obscenely expensive) summer camps. The list of movie stars and magnates that send their little darlings to this particular camp was a tad hair-raising, yet as college graduation loomed, I couldn’t think of a better way to avoid getting a real job, so I accepted a position as a climbing instructor. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

     

    . . .


    It was my turn to take Sam for his bedtime sandwich. He wasn’t even in my cabin, but somehow I got pinned with sandwich duty. Sandwiches were somehow the cure to Sam’s recent bout of nighttime “stomach aches,” though they were really just to get him out of the cabin while the other boys got ready for bed. The week before, when the 12-year-olds were wrestling before lights out, trying to fart on each other, Sam tried a little too hard and shit himself.

    “How much do you get paid?” Sam asked.

    “Not enough,” I said.

    “Do you even know?” he probed.

    “Yes. Eat your sandwich.” I almost wished I didn’t know. It was too close to slave labor.

    “Then how much?”

    “Why do you want to know?” I asked.

    “Well I already know, I was just wondering if you knew.”

    “Eat your sandwich.”

    “Do you have a girlfriend? What color hair does she have? How long is it?”

    If you don’t eat that sandwich I’m going to shove it in your face, I wanted to say.

    “Geez, I just wanted to know how long it is. Like shoulder length or longer?”

     

    . . .


    The Spire and bouldering pavilion, seen from the top of the main tower. Photo courtesy of Pat Mullarkey.After breakfast and cabin cleanup came the first three activity periods—my favorite half of the day since the air was a little cooler than in the sunny afternoon and the two 55-foot wooden climbing towers were in the shade. I could zone out, belaying child after child, so accustomed to the calls of Where do I go? I’m stuck! I need a boost! that I no longer heard them—eyes glazed over like an animal in captivity.

    By the middle of summer, counselors survived on simple pleasures, like 24-hour benders on time off, chicken nugget day and chanting for the girls’ head counselor to jump in the lake whenever she wore a white t-shirt to all-camp meetings

    But I soon discovered a miracle to keep me sane. I could sneak off to the climbing towers during rest hour, drag a crash pad to the top where I was out of sight, and nap—a full glorious hour in my treetop sanctuary. I entertain myself with daydreams of quitting, with images of myself walking out of the camp gates and never looking back.

    When the bell rang for fourth activity period, all I had to do was rappel down, right on time and ready to go for another three straight 50-minute blocks of belaying.

    Rainy days were the worst since we couldn’t climb. It was up to the climbing counselors to keep the kids entertained for the full period while we huddled under the bouldering pavilion. The campers always seemed to love testing how many pull-ups I could do with one of them hanging on my back.

    Do me! Do me! I weigh 63 lbs!”

    “Oh, me next! I weigh 70!”

    “Try me, I’m 95!”

    But kids are only so big and the weight range is limited. Another climbing counselor jumped on my back, 140 pounds’ worth. The campers cheered, my arms strained and shook, veins appeared as I gasped for air and then pop! I separated a rib.

    I had the night off. Once I was outside the camp gates, I debated ever returning. I could keep driving, it would be so easy. I didn’t need to go back. Instead, I ran lap after lap on the unkempt trails of a nearby nature reserve, trying to clear my head. I almost didn’t make the midnight counselor-curfew.

     

    . . .


    Ana, 11, was in fourth period climbing. She was from Spain yet spoke perfect English with a British accent that melted my heart. She was usually enthusiastic to climb, but I found her sitting alone on the bench one day

    “Hayden,” she said, “I don’t feel like climbing today.”

    “Why not?” I asked.

    “I just don’t. Actually, can we boulder? Will you help me?”

    We walked over to the bouldering pavilion and I challenged Ana to traverse all the way around the outside. She fell every few moves but always got back on and eventually made the whole distance.

    “I did it!” she shouted. “Isn’t that good?”

    I dared her to do it with only three falls the next time.

    She tried the entire period, getting down to five falls. The day after, three. By the end of the week, she had completed the full traverse and I was just as excited as she was.

     

    . . .


    Sunset by the docks. Photo: Hayden Carpenter.I was excited, maybe a little too excited, for our camp to host the inter-camp climbing competition that week. Neighboring camps were coming to our turf to see if they could best our climbers. I was jittery with nerves for my campers. I walked them through the point system, talked strategy, picked out the best routes for their individual strengths. Then it was game time.

    Since we were the host camp, I was stuck belaying and it killed me not to be able to watch, but I made sure to be stationed on the wall with the hardest climb. Only four campers sent the hardest route that day, three of them mine. As a camp, we claimed overall victory for both boys and girls—podium places filled with our camp’s color.

     

    . . .


    All summer I thought about quitting. But I never did. When summer ended, I picked up my paycheck and ran out of there without saying any good-byes, so happy to be putting miles between us. Almost a year later, while shifting through the memories, I realize I kind of miss the place.

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