Reflections on Camp

The words below are from our former Executive Director, Dr. David Niebuhr. This was from his first camp experience in 2021, and it was one that he would not soon forget – as anyone know who works with Jacob’s Ladder for any length of time, the experience is unlike any other.

It’s 8:30 on the last Monday of camp, and I’ve just returned to the quiet of my room to reflect upon the AMAZING* production of “The Grinch who Stole Christmas”. (*Amazing because Shawn Saunders, RAs Elodie and Sophie, and a driven group of Climbers staged blocking, memorized lines, built sets, learned musical numbers, and presented the play in just 10 days!)

Like the new Climbers, my first year of Jacob’s Ladder is quickly drawing to a close. Soon, they too, will feel the impending tears of the Climber Good-byes so evident in the eyes of the upper class Climbers.

For now, though, I’d like to reflect on the past month.

We started the camp behind in every aspect of camp planning. We were short staffed, overwhelmed with ever changing COVID restrictions, and burdened with the prospect that we would not be permitted to leave our on-campus bubble. Yet, all of those problems seemed to melt away once the Climbers began to arrive.

Micaiah assured me that the camp would go smoothly. He even predicted the duration of the homesickness, the growing comfort of week two, the inevitable shenanigans of week three, and the tears of week four. What he did not prepare for was the overwhelming energy of the Jacob’s Ladder Community.

I tried to describe that energy to my family. It is a palpable sense of support, encouragement, and caring by the Climbers and Staff. The older Climbers support and guide the younger Climbers. The RAs and Staff (many of whom are Alumni Climbers, themselves) model this support and encouragement. Friendships are formed, but this positive energy transcends individual relationships … it is pervasive in the JL community. Climbers are not without their spats and disagreements, for sure, but the entire community embraces all things positive.

I can now understand why so many of our Board members want to volunteer for camp and want to experience this incredible energy, This is not just my perspective. We had a new science teacher, Ms. Nikki, who was so moved by her first week of camp that she cancelled her plans for the next week and taught an extra week at Jacob’s Ladder.

I am touched by the commitment of our teachers, staff, leaders to add to this incredible community of love.

By name, our camp was incredibly successful because of the dedication and devotion of Micaiah Presley and Shawn Saunders, our Activities Director/RA Liaison and Education Directors, whose intimate knowledge of everything Jacob’s Ladder Camp drove our success, and Jessica Miller, our Operations Director who was instrumental in organizing our time at Christchurch School to the greatest efficiency, comfort, and safety.

Thank you for permitting the honor of participating in this wonderful experience.

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