by Ryan Hawks, Recreation Therapist
Once a year, ScenicView Academy shuts down.
Well, kind of.
Once a year for the last five years, there comes a week where all programming at the Academy is canceled. For three days, there are no classes, no work—even the kitchen is closed. In fact, most of the students aren’t even sleeping in their own beds.
Instead, everyone packs up and heads to Heber Valley Camp in the mountains above Heber City. The setting is beautiful and picturesque, a serene and refreshing break from the day to day goings on at the Academy. Instead of sitting in a classroom, you will find students out canoeing on a peaceful lake or walking a thin log, 20 feet in the air on a ropes course. Instead of working various jobs on campus, you will witness sidesplitting productions by staff and students performing in a hilarious lip-sync competition. Instead of playing video games or watching TV in their free time, you will find students gathered around the campfire telling stories, stargazing, and laughing together.
Monday begins with a flurry of activity as students pack their gear into a large trailer. There is always a buzz of energy as those that have been before share memories from the previous years with newer students. After lunch, everyone loads into the vans and heads up to camp. The girls sleep in the sleeping area at the back of the large pavilion, while the guys sleep in simple cabins a hundred yards away. After everyone settles in, there is a fantastic dinner, this year an Italian feast followed by a group sundae-building activity. People then disperse to play horseshoes, volleyball, or the ever-favorite, Mafia. Finally, the evening tapers off, and people eventually go to bed after night hikes, games, or just visiting.
After a sumptuous breakfast of french toast, our traditional service project is cancelled because of rain. Instead, staff and students pull out boxes of board games prepared as a back-up plan, while others toss a Frisbee around under the large pavilion. Eventually, the rain tapers down just enough for everyone to head to the waterfront to enjoy another favorite, some time on the lake in canoes or paddle boats. After lunch, the group heads to the challenge course where participants climb up a 20 foot long log, then cross another log to where they are hooked in to a long zip line. Positive peer pressure generally always prevails, encouraging those who may be a little hesitant.
After a delicious dinner of Mexican food, everyone is split into groups where they prepare for the evening event, a lip-syncing contest this time. The evening program is the most highly anticipated part of the camp where everyone is pushed a little out of their comfort zones. Following a hilarious program, some continue playing games, others go for evening hikes, while most gather around the campfire to roast marshmallows and visit. The next morning is mainly spent cleaning up, then heading home where programming is canceled for the day so everyone can recoup.
In many ways, Heber Valley Camp embodies everything that ScenicView is trying to instill in their wonderful adults. Everyone pitches in to get the work done without complaint. Everyone participates in the myriad of activities—even when it pushes them out of their comfort zone. Everyone treats each other with respect and kindness, even if they don’t normally get along. Of course, it isn’t perfect—there are still moments where processing and learning need to take place. But there is something unique about the environment up at Heber Valley that makes it much easier to learn and grow. There is a sense of unity and camaraderie that comes from being away from campus, even if only a day or two, that recharges everyone’s battery—including students and staff. It takes us out of the daily grind and refreshes us so we keep working, growing, and improving.
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the picture.
Hanging at the Pavilion Pics
Chillin' at the Lake Pics
At the Challenge Course
Tuesday Night Pro
Here are some of the comments that students and staff shared regarding
their favorite parts of the 2014 Heber Valley Camp:
"I think one of my favorite things every year is watching the students and staff come together to play, clean, and support each other. Although the cleaning or cooking aren’t usually everyone’s favorite, it fun to see students take the initiative! Oh and I also enjoyed Marty’s dancing moves/costume!"
"I’d probably say my favorite part was watching some students receive awards that they weren’t expecting and their positive reaction to the experience. The cherry on top was when everyone started cheering their name. Hands down, best part of Tuesday night." --Aaron Ridenour
"I thought the Tuesday evening program was the best one yet. The atmosphere felt magical and electric. People were facing social fears that lead to social divides and were applauded for it. I believe most of us felt closer, more accepted, and more courageous as a result. The food and snacks couldn't have been better. The ropes course, canoeing, Stargate, and games were also a highlight for me." --Ryan Miller
"Loved the food :) But really what I loved the most about Heber Valley this year was the willingness demonstrated at every turn to be helpful and the teamwork that the students showed was inspiring. Every cabin that was assigned to help in the kitchen helped and never once complained. We truly left the kitchen and pavilion cleaner than we found it!" -Suzanne Grimshaw
My favorite part was being on the lake in the paddle boat though I wasn't able to do the part with paddling using my feet cause of my knee injury I was still able to do the steering and it was fun. --Zoey
I loved playing group games with everyone. I loved the great teamwork demonstrated. And I especially loved the Tuesday night program. Each group did an amazing job. And the finale was spectacular - everyone on stage together dancing to "Happy"! --Marty Matheson
I got to hang out with my three besties and my other half Which was nice.
And I got to interact with some of the Staff and Students. --Liz
"The Tues. night lip sync "contest" was hilarious; we didn't stop laughing throughout. And it was so fun to see the students and staff use their particular strengths and personalities to create striking dance vignettes. Kindness, consideration, helpfulness, and friendliness (along with much rain) was the prevailing climate in the women's cabin and the camp. Hats off to those who attended!" --Jane Coleman
"My favorite part in a general way was how all of the students and staff worked so well together, everyone seemed to pitch in where needed. The weather was questionable, but the programming went on without a hitch. I enjoyed most Brodie winning the prize as "Best Actor", but I enjoyed all of the activities, from board games, to frisbee, to the lake, to the ropes course. I loved seeing all of the behaviors and actions of everyone, how they responded to stress, to a new challenge etc. Great facilities, the time/length of the event was perfect, great food and great treats." --Doug Gale
My favorite part of Heber Valley was seeing staff and students overcome their fears on the challenge course. Everyone came together & encouraged, cheered, and celebrated each person who completed the course. I also love that after completing the course, those who chose to challenge themselves felt a sense of accomplishment & confidence. -Elein Sutherland
It rained for a significant portion of the time, which I think was very beneficial in bringing everyone together. There were more group activities, especially with more people within a particular activity, than previously. There was an assortment of activities to pick from that helped most of the students and staff be involved in something at any given moment. It was also nice to just relax and enjoy observing the interactions that were taking place. I saw students come out of their shells in ways that I'd never seen before - participating in performance activities, interacting with peers, and helping each other with various camp responsibilities. At the end of the camp, we all pulled together to help clean and pack-up. I wanted to jump right in with directions and requests for help, but decided to wait and see what would happen - our students impressed me with their willingness to serve, take initiative, and problem solve on their own! We all returned tired after such an amazing and uplifting time!
Heber Valley was freaking Awesome it gave the staff and students a change to hang out and get to know each other a bit more outside of school. It was so fun to see staff participate in fun activities as such Mafia Phase Ten and I have never ever!!! Every was so helpful i didn't hear anyone grip complain or say I don't want to do that when we were asked to do certain tasks. Tuesday's Lip Sync Concert was hilarious!!! I I can't wait to go back next year!!! -Megan