|Kimbol at the redwoods near Santa Cruz.|
I was 14 at the time and a stealth Girl Scout in junior high school. One of my close friends had signed up for a rappelling weekend, but got sick and couldn’t go. Her mom who was also my troop leader pushed me to take the open slot. “It’s paid for! You can use Kell’s hiking boots!” she said and so I went. It was January in the northeast. Did I mention I’ve always been afraid of heights? And falling?
This trip is where I met Ed. He showed us how to wrap the webbing to make our harnesses, how to check that we were safe and ready and all the technical sides to it. More importantly, he radiated care and confidence in us! “You don’t have to do it, but I would like you to try. You won’t fall. I’ll show you!” And he belayed each of us over the edge, showing us how he could stop us on a dime. He encouraged us to walk the face, then bounce a little, and maybe bounce some more. Safely down on the ground below, I couldn’t believe how much fun it was! And I did it. I was so hooked – I ran back to the top and rappelled down as many times as he would let me, swinging wider and farther each time.
The next day, as Ed was hugging as all goodbye, Ed’s maxim was 10 hugs a day kept off starvation – he pulled me to the side and said, “Any trip of mine you want go on, you’re welcome to come. You’ve been great.”
So, I went. As often as I could, all the way until I graduated high school and moved away.
When I was finding my grown up feet, scared about presenting to vice presidents or running projects where I was the youngest team member, I would remember that I climbed Mount Placid. I rafted the Youghigheny. I went up and down Seneca Rocks more times than I can count. This is easier than that and I did that.
Kimbol is a Gold Award recipient and recently celebrated her 25th year as a Girl Scout. She currently leads a Cadette troop and is planning a trip to Savannah with them for this summer.