When campers have completed the 9th grade, they can choose between the traditional in-camp program and the Trailblazer Program. In-camp campers experience camp just like all other tribes do. They remain in camp, go to skills, and follow the typical daily camp schedule. Trailblazers however, is a completely different experience!
The Trailblazers are the smallest tribe in camp, limited to 36 campers per session. They split into 3 hiking groups and each Monday, they hit the trail for 4 days and 3 nights (returning Thursday afternoon). They hike all over western North Carolina and different trails in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. During a 2-week session, they take two different trips on different trails. This program gives campers an opportunity to experience something completely different than their previous years at camp. Trailblazer campers return to camp for Thursday evening - Sunday and still experience many of the Camp favorites, like Campfire, Carnival, Sock War, Church and joint activities with their Crestridge age group.
What makes Trailblazers different?
Apart from the obvious, like sleeping in the woods rather than a cabin, Trailblazer campers end their 2 weeks talking about the brotherhood and bonds they've formed that are deeper than typical friendships. Additionally, there's something special about doing something that's just different. Where else do boys get the chance to wake up at 6,000 ft of elevation on top of a mountain and be led in a devotion as the sun sets each evening?
If my son is coming for the first time, should he do the in camp program or Trailblazers?
You can't go wrong with either choice. It's really up to what you and your son are looking for in his experience. If you're looking for a more traditional summer camp experience, the in camp program may be the better fit. But if you're looking for something a little more adventurous and an experience that is totally unique from everyday life, the Trailblazer program is an incredible experience!
My son isn't exactly "outdoorsy". Would he enjoy this program?
Yes! He won't be the only one in that category. The Trailblazer program is designed to stretch young men and give them a different experience, but this is not boot camp or a survival expedition. Our goal is not to hike your son until he's blistered and exhausted. This program will expose them to the outdoors and give them confidence to set up camp, cook dinner over a fire, and be prepared for spending the night on the trail.
Is Trailblazers only for former campers?
No! You can be a camper for the first time and do the Trailblazer program and many campers have over the years. Most of the campers who do this program have been in camp before and many of them also see the Tralblazers as a chance to do something different and "complete" their Camp Ridgecrest experience.
Do I need to purchase a lot of gear before my son does this program?
The short answer is "no" but it's really up to you. We will provide a suggested packing list specific to the Trailblazer program. There are some items that it would be helpful to bring, but there are also ways to do it without breaking the bank. As a general rule of thumb, you want to take care of the things that are "between you and the ground", like your shoes, socks and sleeping attire.
Will my son still get to experience Camp if he's a Trailblazer?
Yes! He will still be in camp for things like Sock War, Camp Fire, the Torchman Test, and church on Sunday.