This summer, thirty-six excited, adventurous girls from across Pennsylvania and New Jersey packed up their bikes, helmets and sleeping bags to attend the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League’s very first NICA GRiT (Girls Riding Together) Camp!
The Pennsylvania League recognized early on that they have a strong group of young women athletes in their league who would really enjoy a girls’ only weekend as an opportunity to hone their bike skills in a supportive atmosphere, while strengthening friendships with students from other teams across the state. The league also felt a GRiT camp setting could provide a welcoming atmosphere for new girls who are interested in mountain biking and considering joining a team. Pennsylvania decided to invite their neighboring sisters from the newly formed New Jersey Interscholastic Cycling League to join in the camaraderie.
On Friday afternoon, campers from 16 different teams across 2 leagues, arrived at a rural camp tucked into the Endless Mountain region of northeast Pennsylvania. The camp is settled at the tip of Vosburg Neck, a long narrow strip of land surrounded by high mountains with sheer cliffs that the Susquehanna River carved out as the mountain waters make their journey seaward. The location is remote, gorgeous and ideal for mountain biking and Bald Eagle sightings!
The weekend was jam-packed with a variety of fun activities that kept the girls, who ranged in ages from 11 to 18, engaged, energized and active. The all-female staff of volunteers led the young athletes through the weekend’s activities. As campers arrived, Keystone Composite’s Coach Cindy Copley, our camp mechanic checked over each camper’s bike and helmet to be sure they were in trail worthy condition.
The camp staff boasted two art teachers who filled in the non-riding time with cool, bike themed crafts. One of the favorite crafts was making a name plate for each bike which included the camper’s name as well as their bike’s name.
Many talented female coaches and top-notch riders offered their weekend to help the girls advance their skills. The campers made big improvements in many skills, such as cornering, while everyone had a blast practicing controlled skids for those times when you really do have to brake hard and fast! One of the most enjoyed on bike activities of the weekend was the bike game session. Bike soccer scored big points as a favorite with many of the girls.
Each day featured a trail ride and the girls set out on trails selected to provide a safe and fun ride in groups based on ability and experience. On Sunday, all girls who wanted to make the big climb, saddled up and rode to the highest point in camp to the scenic overlook. For many girls, this was their longest and most technical ride of their lives! There were some pretty big smiles at the top of that climb!
There was also plenty of time spent off the bikes. Corinne Farrell, yoga instructor and adventure racer, led the camp in an hour of team-building yoga which resonated NICA’s Core Values. Speaking of which, each cabin presented a cabin skit which exemplified one of the 5 Core values. This gave girls an opportunity to work together, really think about what those values mean and demonstrate their understanding in a creative way for all their peers. All of this plus some swimming and camp fires and even a camp song, made for a weekend of memories and new friends. We even got to see a Bald Eagle!
Sunday came quickly, and as the parents packed their daughters’ dirty gear into cars and girls said their goodbyes, there was one overwhelming request from all of the campers. A weekend just wasn’t enough, next year, they want more camp!
Thanks to Alaina Dietz, Head Coach/Director of Keystone Composite for the article and photos!