Highlighting Falling Creek's Outdoor Adventure Program

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Discovery. Independence. Resilience.

One of the hallmarks of Falling Creek is the adventure trip program offered to boys during our two-, three-, and four-week camp sessions. Under experienced leadership, campers can choose from a variety of out-of-camp adventure trips, including Backpacking, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, and Paddling. These trips range in skill level from introductory to advanced, and from single day outings to five-day trips. All trips begin and end at Falling Creek Camp, and venture out to enjoy some of the most scenic rocks, rivers, and trails in the Southeast!

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Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director.

In this new Adventure Program blog series, we’ll be highlighting each of our four Outdoor Adventure programs. We’ll also hear from a few of our directors and counselors on what makes these programs so important, and why they choose to lead trips at Falling Creek.

To start the series off, we talk to Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director. Originally from Ohio, Ben joined the Falling Creek summer staff in 1998, and in August of 2006, Ben joined the full-time staff as assistant program director. Today, Ben serves as the Outdoor Adventure Director for Falling Creek, coordinating all of the outdoor adventure activities. Playing no favorites, Ben takes advantage of all the outdoor opportunities offered in the mountains, and he is even a ski instructor at Alta Ski Area in Utah, where he and his wife Elliot live during the off-season.

We asked Ben what makes the outdoor adventure program as a whole unique to Falling Creek. Ben explained that the program “is designed to create a lifelong passion for the outdoors, allowing campers to continue their journey in these activities for the rest of their lives. To accomplish this, we focus on building skills that create a solid foundation. At the same time, we focus on the personal relationships that are formed from shared experiences outdoors.”

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Ben Williams teaching a young kayaker on the Lower Green River.

Not only does a boy learn the technical skills required to safely participate in each outdoor activity at camp, but he also builds friendships with others in those activities, creating a solid base for enjoying the outdoors and improving on those skills for years to come. Campers take that passion for the outdoors with them, even after their time at Falling Creek is over. “For me, the greatest moment is when I hear from an alumni who is still climbing, biking, hiking, or paddling 15 years or more after the last time they attended Falling Creek,” says Ben.

Though Ben is a big believer in the “free choice” boys have at camp, he would always recommend they choose to go on a trip at least once during their time at Falling Creek. “Being outside is like hitting a reset button. In the modern world everything is comfortable, easy, and lit up by the glow of screens. Being outside is the total opposite. One has to be present in the experience, immersed in the beauty of nature, without technology, and persevere during challenges that might arise on a trip. This makes outdoor trips more meaningful, and creates deeper friendships based on real, tangible, experiences.”

Ben also talks about the confidence that campers gain from learning these new outdoor skills. At Falling Creek, trip participation is based on ability, not on age. Once a boy builds up the necessary skills, they can sign up for any trip we offer. Offering experiences that aren’t based on age is an empowering thing for a young person. “It’s not very often that a child and an adult are able to compete on a level playing field.” Ben related this to mountain biking - “It’s the same hill for everyone.” On adventure trips, boys learn that they have what it takes, no matter their age or background.

Keep an eye on our blog for this continuing series on our Outdoor Adventure Program! We’ll be featuring Backpacking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, and Paddling at Falling Creek, in the words of those who have taught the activities. In the meantime, check out more about all the Falling Creek Programs here!

Update: you can read the Backpacking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, and Paddling posts on our blog now!

In 2020, our Outdoor Adventure Program continued with new Expeditions, leading 108 boys on 14 week-long adventures throughout the Southeast.

In addition to our Backpacking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Paddling, and Beginner Multi-Sport trips, we also offered a STEEL Leadership Expedition for young men who completed 11th grade. Like the traditional STEEL (Summer Training Encouraging Emerging Leaders) Program, this group of our oldest campers worked on effective communication, risk management, and decision making as they took turns organizing meals and leading different aspects of the journey.

With top-notch instruction by some of Falling Creek’s most skilled veteran staff in our popular adventure activities, these trips offered the experience of a lifetime to campers in grades 6-11. Each experience was designed to include challenging skill building as well as fun. Spending time in nature with a close-knit group of friends made for a memorable, rewarding opportunity. These weeklong expeditions off-property were true to Falling Creek’s core purpose of developing young men of character who can thrive as leaders in their communities.