We always look forward to YOKE’s Summer Adventures. In addition to being a great opportunity to reconnect and strengthen our relationships with YOKE Kids over the summer break, it gives kids a chance to connect with students from other schools, try new things, and sometimes overcome their fears. This summer looked very different because of the coronavirus pandemic, but we were able to meet up for one our favorite activities, Navitat Canopy Adventures at Ijams Nature Center.

Elijah Clemes, a rising 7th grader at Cedar Bluff Middle, is a regular at club, camp, and Summer Adventures. We were happy to catch up with him for a bit and hear about his YOKE story.

YOKE:  How did you find out about Summer Adventures and YOKE?

Elijah:  Ms Bridget at church invited me to come with her that summer to Summer Adventures. I went and it was really fun.

YOKE: That’s cool! Bridget Beam, a team leader at Holston Middle, connected with you through church and helped introduce to you to the folks from Cedar Bluff! What has been your favorite Summer Adventure?

Elijah: White Water Rafting was my favorite. I’d never done anything like that before and it was fun paddling down the river. Parts of it was a little scary, but also really cool.

YOKE: That river is no joke! Those are some big rapids we rode down. Last year we went hiking, indoor snow tubing, had a pool party, and took on the Navitat ropes course. You did Navitat both years. How would you compare the two experiences?

Elijah:  Well, last year I was really nervous. I did ground school where they show you how to use the equipment and navigate the courses. I tried to do the beginner course called Water, but I got scared and had to turn back and get down. I just couldn’t do it. This year I was determined to do it.  We did ground school again and then straight on to the Water course again, but this time I did it!  By the end of the night, I had done 3 courses! I did the beginner and then two of the moderate levels. It was so fun!  My YOKE Folk Colton was also there and it was fun hanging out with him. I conquered my fears this year!

YOKE:  That is very impressive. Every time I saw you that night you were clipping in to start a new course. I love that you challenged yourself and conquered those nerves. Knowing you and Colton, I am sure there was a lot of laughing going on up in the trees. I know this summer has been different than most, and we are getting ready to start school. What are your plans for the Fall?

Elijah:  I’ve spent way more time at the house this summer. It’s been fine but we’ve all been home a lot more than usual. I plan to go back to Cedar Bluff when school starts, and I will be at school. I am excited and ready to go back, but I do worry that some kids won’t take the virus seriously. I hope people will take it all seriously and we will all stay healthy. I hope we can stay in school.

YOKE: Wise words, Elijah. We do too! We can’t wait to be back at school and have YOKE Club and maybe even YOKE Camp sometime this school year. We really miss being with all our friends all around YOKE.

Elijah:  Yeah, clubs are fun and YOKE Camp is just awesome. We laughed a lot all weekend at camp. I hope we can do it all again this year, the whole year.

YOKE:  We are praying for that too! Hope to see you again soon at CBMS! Go Giants!