Ready, set, camp!

SHS juniors and seniors prepare to chaperone at Camp Flat Rock for the second time ever


Darcy Leber

English teacher Sam Hanley talks to junior and senior participants in his classroom on Aug. 24. At the beginning of the meeting, he introduced new volunteers.

Forty minutes southeast of Indianapolis, on the banks of the Flat Rock River, lies Camp Flat Rock. 

Run by the YMCA, Camp Flat Rock is an outdoor camp that offers many opportunities, including summer camps, family camps, event days and the Outdoor Education program, where schools send students on an overnight camping trip.

Each year, the fifth graders of Clinton Young Elementary spend three days at the camp hiking, fishing or canoeing. Recently, however, they have not been the only ones to experience this trip. During both last year’s trip and this year’s upcoming trip, a group of SHS students serve as the fifth graders’ chaperones.

“Last year was the first year doing something like this, so there were a lot of unknowns,” senior Kaitlin Osborne said. “So, I think that this year we kind of know what works and what didn’t work. I think that it’ll be a lot smoother for us and for the kids.”

With acquired knowledge from last year, SHS juniors and seniors are preparing for another chaperoning opportunity at the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp.

The trip will take place from Sept. 21 through Sept. 23, lasting three days and two nights. 

While this is only SHS’s second year sending students on this trip, fifth grade students from Clinton Young Elementary take this trip annually. A year ago, the principal at Clinton Young reached out to English teacher Sam Hanley to create this program.

“We did it last year in March… Mr. Henriott, the principal at Clinton Young, reached out and wanted to start this program,” Hanley said.

Since last year was the first opportunity for any students to attend this trip, the only experienced current students are this year’s seniors, who make up the majority of the group. Though Hanley felt a need for more incoming juniors, there were limited application spots left.

“We had a lot of returning students who are seniors, so we need to get our group going from current juniors… so they can do it a second year,” Hanley said. “But we didn’t have a lot of space, we only had like six openings.”

To ensure all of the applicants are seizing this opportunity for the right reasons, Hanley created a thorough “process,” as he calls it.

“We’re not just letting people sign up to do it who want to do it and miss two days of school,” Hanley said. “But, they have to go through (an) application, an interview and a training process.”

Guidance counselor Tricia Bender talks to students about rules and expectations at the meeting.

So far, the students who have applied are serious about the opportunity. Having gone last year, the seniors already have an idea of the impact the trip will have on everyone involved. According to Osborne, last year’s trip resulted in many new memories and friendships.

“It literally was one of the most fun experiences I think I had last year,” Osborne said. “The relationships I got with the kids and the rest of the high schoolers that went, like, there are people I never would’ve been friends with and connections I never would’ve made.”

Aside from the seniors, there were many willing juniors eager to fill the remaining positions. One junior in particular, Lexi Nix, was convinced by Osborne to apply for a spot in this year’s group.

Nix got accepted, and she is looking forward to the opportunity. In elementary school, she never got a chance to go on a trip like this, so this experience will be new for her. If all goes well, she says, she is already planning to chaperone again next year.

“I’m really excited,” Nix said. “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but I just don’t really know what to expect yet.”