The Lady Oaks started the 2012 campaign with four straight days of tough double days on the field at Menlo. The Women's Soccer staff packed everyone up on the fifth day and headed for a camping retreat in Yosemite. The goal for the group was live in a very foreign environment for three days where their comfort levels would be challenged and begin to bond closer with the people around them.
The guide leader, Kirky, started right in on the girls putting them through team building exercises. First one was splitting the girls into two even groups, requesting to get each member through a giant rope web without touching the rope and without entering the same "web hole" twice. Time after time, the girls touched the rope in efforts to help assist a team member through, and time after time the girls would then have to start completely over. Finally, the girls understood they needed not only teamwork, but patience. They were able to recognize the significance of not rushing the task at hand.
Each day was filled with a new challenge, from purifying their water, to first time cooks learning to use a Dutch Oven over open flames. Jobs were randomly delegated by splitting the girls into different "worker" groups. This again was installing teamwork, leadership and problem solving in the members of the team.
Sunday was the day of the dreaded Upper Falls hike to the top on Yosemite's natural waterfall. The girls were nervous but determined to conquer "the hike." Water bottles in hand and sneakers tightly tied they began the four hour climb. One by one they followed the switchback rocky trail, pondering when they were going to reach the top. Through sweat, tears, and a couple bruised knees each and every girl reached the summit and was able to look out upon the gratifying mountain view. Broad smiles bore across every face with congratulating high fives and victory hugs. The conquest was sweet and the girls understood the importance of persistence and persevere through their adversities of mental and physical challenges.
Later that night, once back at camp, there was new level of camaraderie prevalent in the group. The hike had brought several individuals together to form one team. Over the next couple days a dramatic change had been made, there were no longer individuals but one family. They worked as a team preparing the last couple meals and packing up the tents, which most had never done before. With the last backpack loaded and campfire put out it was time to say goodbye to Yosemite.
From onset the players knew they were in for a challenge. The team became closer and more of a family and it will certainly help them prevail in challenges throughout the season. it was a much altered scene. For some it was internal and others external, however the numerous messages learned were constant and invaluable.