Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sprockids 2007

We're wrapping up another great year with the Sprockids program that my wife started with two other guys, what, five years ago now? Wow. How time flies. We take forty kids into the woods twice a week on their mountain bikes and we talk about rules of the trail, respecting nature and each other, and techniques for riding well.

We capped off the season this year with a two-night campout at a camp center nearby with some of the most technically difficult riding around. Our kids range from 10 to 15 years old, and it's great to see them, many of whom were afraid or unable to ride over a three-inch stick on the ground, now clearing two-foot high A-frames over massive logs in the middle of a slippery rock garden.

Many of the kids absolutely love the program and thrive in it much more than they do in the organized sports in school. I think about my childhood playing Little League baseball and other team sports. While an outstanding play might give a kid a temporary sense of accomplishment, I found that usually they're an opportunity for failure. A single missed ball or strike out or fumble at the wrong moment can bring the whole team down on you. In the mountain biking program, we foster a team environment in the sense that everyone encourages everyone else, and the bigger kids help spot the younger ones over obstacles. However, it remains a very personal sport. Each obstacle is a personal challenge and an opportunity to get real satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment by overcoming it. And if the obstacle remains insurmountable for the time being, there is a whole team of people saying, "That's okay, you'll get it next time" and truly meaning it because the failure didn't just cost the team a win. Watching the kids' faces light up when they tackle a scary feature on the trail and finally clean it after trying a few times is a huge reward to the adult volunteers. When the parents come to pick up their kids, we get many thanks, and I always get the feeling like they're a little bewildered about exactly what it is that we do on our bikes in the woods that lights their kids up so much. Very few kids go away not wanting to spend more time on their bikes right away.

Ride on!


At 2:24 PM, Blogger Adam Reitz said...

Glad to hear the season wrapped up well! Sprockids = a good thing. Ride on.


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