Adventure is out there and one local couple is helping young children find it.
Danae and Eric Little of Pioneer are sharing their passion for the outdoors with local students through their business All-Sierra Highlanders. Over the past decade, Danae, a credentialed teacher, and her husband Eric have taken students on a wide array of adventures.
Their expeditions with students have ranged from short excursions to Indian Grinding Rock or Tiger Creek to long journeys, including spelunking (where they took a group of students into a cave located in Volcano), a two-night backpacking trip (with their 8-month-old baby, no less), and a “Canoe Camp,” where they packed all their gear and rafted overnight in canoes.
The Littles, with the help of Danae’s mother Delynda (affectionately nicknamed “Miss Yippie Hippie”) held their first “Adventure Camp” in 2007. Adventure Camp is a summer day camp for students of varying outdoor experience.
In the past 12 years, All- Sierra Highlanders has has put on different levels of Adventure Camps, from beginner to advanced and specialty trips, such as “Spooky Spelunking” (held in October of course!). Over the course of these camps, the students learn a variety of skills and knowledge about local nature and environment through different activities.
In addition to their off-site trips with students, Danae and Eric have built their property into a young adventurer’s paradise. An obstacle course winds its way through the property, testing balance, agility, strength and endurance through a series of obstacles, including a zip line and a rock wall. On top of the obstacle course, they have set up a frisbee golf course and archery stations for the students to participate in during their time at camp.
During the camp, the students tye-dye their own shirts, which are presented to them as a token of their accomplishments on the last day, complete with the triumphant phrase “I survived All-Sierra Highlanders’ Adventure Camp!” on the back.
One of the most rewarding and impactful aspects of Adventure Camp is seeing the transformations in confidence within the young students. A camper could arrive timid and cautious, but leave confident and excited, flying around the obstacle course like they are on top of the world.
“Getting (the campers) outside and getting them to build their confidence is the big thing,” Danae said.
The camp leaves campers with important life lessons.
“I learned that it is harder to do some things by yourself and it is easier to rely on teamwork,” said Joey, one of this year’s campers.
The memories that Adventure Camp gives to these kids will last for years. I don’t state this as an assumption, but rather as a fact; 11 years ago, I was one of the first Adventure Campers and still remember the excursions and activities vividly.
Through their camps, All-Sierra Highlanders is inspiring confidence and imparting knowledge to a future generation of outdoor adventurers.
For more information about All-Sierra Highlanders, visit their website at allsierrahighlanders.com.