By Lauren Stephenson
Save Our Canyons Kids Intern
Monday, June 13th was the first SOCKids hike of summer 2016. As our first activity of the 2016 summer and my first as the SOCKids program leaders we were anxious to get out with the teens from the Boys and Girls Club Sugarhouse.
We gathered the group of 27 students, ages of 11 and 12 and set off up Big Cottonwood Canyon to hike to Twin Lakes Pass. As soon as one of the girls stepped out of the van she exclaimed to her peers, “It smells like winter. I love it here! Don’t you just love it?” I loved seeing her enthusiasm about hiking and nature because the majority of the kids were just there because their parents had to work and this was their only option.
All of the students had to leave their phones at the club because on past hikes students have been too distracted by their phones to be engaged in hiking and enjoying their surroundings. When we got to the first overlook of the hike I heard one of the girls say, “It looks like someone photoshopped it, except it’s like real here.” I wonder if she would have had been distracted by technology, would she have been able to admire the beauty surrounding her to the same extent, probably not. The world these kids are living in is mostly virtual. I believe it’s very beneficial for their mental and physical health to get outside, hike something that may challenge them and sweat.
Overall, the majority of kids said that they didn’t enjoy hiking, but every single kid made it to the top. When we were on the incline I stopped to ask a girl who was sitting down if she was okay and she replied, “I can hear my heart, and it does NOT sound happy.” Another student said, “If I faint, just leave me.” I was surprised by how many kids were out of shape and really struggled with this hike. Their club is hiking once a week all summer and I hope that they see the difference in their ability from start to finish and continue a healthy lifestyle once school starts again.
One of my favorite moments was when the last few kids who were having a hard time with the steep incline were nearing the top their peers were cheering them on and chanting their names. I loved that they were encouraging each other rather than judging people with different abilities than their own.