MOUNT DESERT — A handful of middle school students trudged through the late spring snow in the Camp Beech Cliff (CBC) woods Saturday morning with bows in hand and quivers full of arrows strapped to their backs.
They’re participants in the new Adventure Archery program, which grew out of the popular indoor archery sessions there for kids ages 6-15.
“Adventure archery is part of our Acadia Leadership Institute,” instructor Nat Pajor said. “It’s about cultivating leadership skills in an outdoor setting.” Through the Institute, CBC offers outdoor trainings and adventure experiences for groups and individuals of all ages.
Mount Desert Island High School senior Delenn Colson is working on her Senior Ex project with Pajor. “I’m exploring how focus sports like archery affect executive function and impact other areas of life,” she said. “For myself, I loved archery at camp when I was a kid, but when I hit middle school, I played team sports like soccer and basketball instead. I noticed that I became less organized at home and in school, so I’m wondering if taking up archery again will help me plan and organize better.”
In Adventure Archery, participants made and decorated their own quivers.
Pajor offers challenges at different parts of the course: shoot one arrow at a target, run forward and hide behind a rock to shoot at the next. Archers judge whether they have a clear shot between trees, and when the wind shifts.
The group works together to make a small snowman with the dense, icy snow and set it up in front of two targets. The first volley of arrows directed at the snowman takes off its head.
Among the 11-15 year olds, many have been practicing archery for several years. “I love hunting, and this is the classic way to hunt,” said one sixth grader from Hampden.
“I do archery because I’m a fanatic about the medieval period, and a lot of people used archery back then,” said a Mount Desert student who brought his own large bow. “It’s a good way to connect.”
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