It was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. After breakfast, the Access Wild Places crew took a short hike to the Crag, our outdoor climbing wall. Once at the base of the cliff there are many routes ranging in difficulty to choose from, making it a wonderful place to try climbing or to sharpen existing skills.

The first wave of climbers were suited up in climbing shoes, harnesses, and helmets, then given some safety guidelines and tips before roping up and beginning their ascents. This is a group of students that cheered each other on during yesterday’s hike up Trouble, and that tradition continued today as each took to the cliff face. Shouts of friendly advice and encouragement pushed each climber onward, with some reaching the top of the Crag to a round of applause. Climbing is difficult work, and it feels rewarding no matter how high you get. That sentiment was written across every child’s face—there was no failure here, only the sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing a challenge head-on as friends offer kind words of motivation.

After lunch, there was a new, and very different, adventure waiting: paddling on Round Lake. The lake is part of the North Country School and Camp Treetops campus, and on a calm day floating across its tranquil surface is one of the most relaxing and breathtaking activities here.

Before paddling, though, everyone cooled off by running into the water. After some time splashing and swimming, a group of campers took to the beach to transform one of their peers into a sand mermaid, complete with a detailed fin and decorative stones.

Paddling was a new endeavor for the AWP crew, and everyone could choose to try a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard. Equipped with lifejackets and some basic instructions, everyone made their way toward the center of the lake, where they were greeted by a view of Rock-E House, our campus, and the surrounding mountains.

The afternoon was a time to reflect and relax, two things that are perfect when accompanied by a mountain view. After dinner, everyone enjoyed the conversation with our guest, Lisa Muñoz, Director of Equity and Inclusion at the Putney School, before settling in to rest up for their biggest adventure yet—Thursday’s challenging hike to Balanced Rocks.