What I learned on the ropes course

Ropes courses, to me, are very inspiration. Usually I'll pull out some kind of devotional point. This past weekend, though, on the middle school retreat, I learned one simple lesson, at the intersection of prep time and face time.

Trout Lodge's staff does an amazing job leading students through their different courses, so when our middle schoolers got out to the site I'd been planning to cheer them on for a little while and then head back to the lodge to get ready for the next program session, setting out the supplies and material we'd need.

But my students kept saying, "You have to climb with us!"

I hadn't thought they'd be so insistent. "But I've done this before!" I said. That had been a valid excuse for the kids who weren't climbing.

"Maybe, but we haven't seen you!" one smart sixth-grader shot back.

So I climbed. I put on a harness and went through the course and said to myself, "Isaac, you can go back and prep when the next group comes through."

But the next group wanted me to stay too. They let me hang out on the ground, after I told them (and the staff vouched for me) that I'd climbed earlier, but they weren't letting me go anywhere.

On the way home, I thought about that. And I dug one simple rookie lesson out of it:

Any chance for face time with students has to be spent with students, duh! It's straight out of summer camp training, and something I remind adult leaders about near-weekly: spend most of your time with students.

Minor prep can always wait. Program-writers and perfectionists *Isaac raises both hands* like me need to be especially careful not to forget that.

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