Earlier this year, somehow I got involved with the young men’s encampment. Yes, I already have a calling as the Elder’s Quorum President and yes I’m busy with starting a business, a young family, and hobbies when I have time, but someone in the stake knew that I like to climb and so they asked me to head up the rock climbing high adventure activity for the scouts. Now keep in mind that this wasn’t just a troop of scouts, I had to organize and run a rock climbing experience for 300 scouts over the course of a week.
Over the past six months, I have been certified as a live rock BSA rock climbing instructor (as well as getting my other 7 instructors certified), planned and bought food for 300 people, bought thousands of dollars of climbing equipment for the council, chosen a site and worked with land managers all in preparation for the week of August 5 – August 9 when the scouts would descend in hordes upon Mount Erie.
Mount Erie – Not a bad spot to spend a week
Since, it was to take a week of my time, I wanted to involve my family as much as possible. So I invited Amber to camp with me at Deception Pass for the week. She agreed as did the Horkley, Bettilyon, and Thatcher families. They would join us on Tuesday through Friday of that week.
Two of my best friends – Larry Horkley and Matt Bettilyon who helped carry obscene loads of gear and instruct scouts
When the day to start the event came, I drove to Mount Erie earlier in the morning. Immediately it became clear what the hardest part of the trip would be. We had mounds of gear (11 ropes weighing 10 lbs each, 50 large locking carabiners, 50 helmets, 50 harnesses, 50 pairs of rock shoes, food, water, …) weighing almost 500 lbs in total and only 5 of us to carry it. It took us two ridiculous trips to get it one mile in to the climbing area at Sunset Slabs on Mount Erie.
We carried this in and out every day along with hundreds of pounds more – who knew our real task was to be sherpas
Building one of many top rope anchors for the day
All set up and ready for the boys
Having fun belaying our photographer and great friend Peter Thatcher
We set up, trained a few more staff members, marked the trail for the young men, and then prepared to practice that afternoon with all of the young women from the Snohomish stake. About 50 young women arrived and we got them set up and going on the routes within a few minutes. They enjoyed their time and we refined our system for the young men tomorrow.
After we finished, we carried all of the gear down to the cars. Now there were 7 of us carrying gear, but we did it in one load! Which meant, I had a 70 lbs pack on my back, a tub of helmets in my left hand, and a 50 lbs bag of gear in my right hand. It looked and felt ridiculous like this was some kind of grand and unfunny joke. We arrived back at the cars exhausted, very dirty, and ready for food.
That night, Matt met us at the campground with pizza and chocolate milk. It was absolutely wonderful. The only problem was that we arrived late enough that we couldn’t get shower tokens. Poor Matt had to suffer through our (Larry and myself) distinctive scent of work from the day.
Contemplating how dirty I am after a hard day’s work and no shower
The next day, we arose early and started the whole process over again. Throughout the week, we fine tuned our approach as we hosted groups of 30 young men twice a day each day. They climbed 10 different routes ranging from 5.4 slabs to overhanging 5.9, tenuous 5.10a blank rock, and 5.hard off-widths.
We had loads of scouts climbing
We had a variety of routes all of which came with great views of many lakes and the sound
On lunch break, we even got to climb a bit ourselves
Each night we would return to our families and spend time talking with them around dinner. It was great to see them and get news of their day after a long hard day on the hot dusty rock. They played each day at the beach or the lake.
My beautiful wife, Amber
Amber handling the kiddos
Kaitlyn and some friends having fun
Kaitlyn and Adelie having fun around camp
Those women were absolutely amazing! They collectively handled 11 children without any dads around while cooking fantastic meals like Navajo Tacos, Spaghetti, and Potato Bar. A big thank you to Danette Horkely who made breakfast for Larry, Matt, and myself each day before we left at around 6:30 in the morning!
The highlight of the week for me was Thursday lunch when the Horkley family and my family came and visited us between when the groups of young men climbed. We had about two hours to eat, play, and climb. It was so fun to see them. I sure love my family.
The family goes rock climbing at Mount Erie
Kaitlyn crushing it
Kaitlyn higher on the route
Jacob on the upper part of one of the 5.9 route
Jacob topping out
Adelie working hard for it
Adelie finding her next move
Amber cruising up one of the 5.9 routes on thin holds
Hannah showing us how it’s done
The Dyer and Horkley families
Kaitlyn and Adelie – Dirty, but still best of friends
My totally awesome family!