Climber, to RA, to Teacher

Jacob’s Ladder has shaped my life in many ways, more than I likely even know. Attending camp as a child helped build a foundation of values my life has grown around. Being a climber meant you were part of something bigger than just the camp itself. The friends I made are still like family to me to this day, and the staff always supported and guided me. Having that group behind me allowed me to grow confident in other parts of my life and helped me become someone I am proud of today.

Matt (far left) and the RA gang, summer, 2015

Being an R.A. was somehow an even better experience. So much so I couldn’t stop coming back, working 10 years of summer camps. Living with a camp full of climbers is as exhausting as it is rewarding. It stretches you to your limits at times and it makes you push yourself. Other times it is the most fun that you’ve ever had. Throughout it all I was constantly impressed by how intelligent and amazing the climbers were. I tried my best to pass on the values camp taught me. Sometimes I failed, sometimes I succeeded. Trying to pass along lessons to the climbers helped me realize what things are most important to me in life and it has helped me continue to grow.

Coming back as a teacher has now offered me another perspective on camp. Working with the climbers in a classroom setting allowed them to show off how smart and caring they all are. My class taught the basics of money management, and it did so in a competitive format. The material we covered was very new and different to most of them, but they were all able to grasp it almost easily. Any time a climber did struggle their classmates jumped in to help explain the material, even though they were all competing. When one climber would succeed in something the others would cheer. They listened respectfully when I would speak and they thought critically when I asked them to. I’ve never taught in a classroom outside of Jacob’s Ladder before but I’m willing to bet most teachers don’t have it so lucky. I look forward to returning this summer for my second year as a teacher.”

Matt Owens

  • Climber Alumni, RA, Teacher
  • Taught Money Management
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