The Benefits of Adventure Sessions at Camp Ondessonk
By Edwin Cook
OZARK, IL: The Benefits of Adventure Sessions at Camp Ondessonk. Session 2 of 2017 featured our Camper vs. Wild Adventure program, led by experienced counselor and outdoorsmen Sylvan Christenson and his staff of Darien Ellis and Grace Herr. Camper vs. Wild allows its participants to develop real-life leadership skills through participation in primitive camping activities. With an emphasis on skill development, these campers experience training in backpacking, outdoor cooking, map and compass navigation, fire building, and water purification; all in the backcountry of the Shawnee National Forest.
Our media team took a trip to Pine Lake to catch up with Christenson, his staff, and campers to conduct video interviews and take photos of their experience. Christenson describes Adventure sessions as, “specialty, unique programs running out of Camp Ondessonk that take trips outside the sphere of Camp and provide [campers] an experience unlike Traditional Camp. We discover more experienced rock climbing, paddling [canoes and kayaks], outdoor living skills, and offer specialty camps such as surfing in South Carolina.”
Allowing their campers more freedom than Traditional Campers, Adventure also calls for more responsibility. Depending on the adventure sessions, campers have to prepare their own food, create sleeping situations, and connect with a smaller group than the children who experience Traditional Camp. Christenson, a former Adventure camper himself explained the impact these programs had on him at a young age. “It gave me an opportunity to grow and test my skills, but also learn from experienced people as well. I learned to live in a smaller community and work as a more cohesive unit.”
Throughout the summer, Camp Ondessonk offers different Adventure opportunities for ages ranging from 12-18. We offer Adventures such as Hike, Bike, Paddle & Climb, Horse Adventure, Shawnee Backpack & Zip-Line Adventure, Kentucky Equine Excursion, Mountain Biking Adventure, Paddling Adventure, and Surfing Adventure.
Although many of these programs are outside the realm of Traditional Camp, Adventure Campers are still eligible for induction into Lodge; Camp Ondessonk’s honor society.