Voted to be our Campers’ favorite adventure, Smitty’s Revenge has been a main-stay at Camp since 1987 when Bill Smith came up with the idea after a climbing adventure with a Cub Scout trip. With the guidance of his mentor, Jeff Olson (who was a professor to Bill), Smith came to Camp Confidence for a summer internship. For his final project, Smitty’s Revenge was born. “My inspiration came from my rock climbing background. I used to guide people on trips and remembered how much people loved it. The people I guided were higher functioning, but I thought anyone can do this with the right tools and place to do it; so we [me and Jeff] started building.”
And build they did, and named it Smitty’s Revenge. Smith continued to work at Camp Confidence for another five years, and remembered people – Campers and families – loving the new adventure.
Through-out its tenure the Camp Staff have had more success stories than can be counted. From the initial fear and people saying ‘She/he can’t do that or I can’t do that or I won’t do that’ to the amazing look of success from every person that reaches the bell and rings it proudly! It’s not just for the Campers – it’s for the families and caretakers that are with them as well.
While for most the goal is to reach the top and ring the bell, for the Staff at Camp it’s about helping our campers understand that fears are a normal part of life. We all have them, and all can be faced if given enough information and support. Many campers come back each year just to climb a little higher than before. Eventually they will reach the bell. And when they do, it’s a true celebration.
Smitty’s Revenge is also an equalizer activity. Sometimes the campers are very successful but their staff or caretakers are the ones who struggle. At this point our campers realize their staff or caregivers are just like them, sometimes afraid to push themselves. It’s fun to see our campers provide the encouragement. This helps bring everyone together as a family which definitely benefits them back at home.
Smitty’s Revenge can be very humbling. When you see a camper work way beyond their comfort level, or push themselves physically despite limited use of an arm or leg, it makes us all realize that we should never give up when faced with a challenge.