by Anna Clark
I was the only woman who worked on a ropes course during the summer I spent employed at a girls’ camp in Pennsylvania. Officially, my job was to strap kids into climbing harnesses and belay them as they ventured to the top of walls, fake boulders, and the a 60-foot “adventure pyramid.” Unofficially, my job was to encourage and coax the many girls who were scared to climb high.
During Parents’ Weekend, one eight-year-old, who made it to the peak of the adventure pyramid, was scared to slide off the top—a necessary move for me to belay her back down to the ground. While I could have had someone simply climb up after her, I spent half an hour encouraging the girl to let go. A crowd of parents and girls formed, their necks craned backwards to look up at the little girl stranded at the top. She trembled. She whined. And, finally, when she did slide off – to enormous cheering – she hit the ground with both feet and held her hands in the air in triumph.
“Nice coaching,” said one of the fathers.