By: Josh Weikel, Migdal Man (Climbing Specialist)
There’s no program that brings a cabin closer together than an afternoon on the Migdal. The Migdal is GUCI’s climbing program that the campers participate in by cabin and nosaf groups throughout the session. GUCI is fortunate enough to have multiple climbing courses for the campers to try out.
First there is the Migdal itself; a 65-foot Alpine climbing tower. The Migdal is equipped with six belay stations and three main routes, so this means that six kids can climb at a time with two on each path. Additionally, the Migdal has elements put in place like rope ladders and dangling logs to challenge the kids that enjoy an extra challenge.
GUCI also has an Alpine Giant Swing often referred to as the Migdal Swing. The Migdal Swing is exactly what it sounds like— a large swing where campers are lifted up by their cabin-mates. They then swing back and forth for about two minutes. The Swing is often scheduled by counselors to do on Bunk Night (cabin bonding).
The last component to the Migdal program is the brand new high ropes challenge course equipped with a 300ft zip line! This challenge course is called the Etgar. The Etgar has added so much more the Migdal program in that kids are able to really test what they are physically and mentally capable of achieving. It is a much more challenging course than the Migdal and my high ropes staff looks to challenge campers, especially the older ones, to try more difficult elements than what they completed in years past. The Etgar is an amazing addition to the program for this aspect, plus who doesn’t love a zip line?
When a group of campers comes down to the Migdal that group is often filled with mixed emotions. There are some campers that are ecstatic. These campers can’t wait to see how fast they can climb and can’t wait to try out all the different challenges. In this same group there will also be campers who may be nervous about getting off the ground. Migdal Staff’s mission is that every kid leaves the Migdal having had a positive experience, and that every camper leaves proud of what they accomplished. For some that may be getting to the top of the Migdal, while for others it may be getting a few feet off the ground. It is really amazing to watch the campers grow so much closer to each other in just the few hours that they are down at the Migdal or Etgar. They all offer support and encouragement to all their cabin mates as they take on the various challenges. When a cabin has finished their climb and they are walking back to their cabin. They have a big smile on their faces and are excited to come climb again next year.