Adventuring in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands

By Christy Belardo, Education Intern

On August 10-14th, the Delaware Nature Society Laurel Highland Adventure camp explored Ohiopyle State Park and nearby areas in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Instructor Austin Gee and I led a team of ten ranging from 11 to 15 years old on a fun-filled week of caving, rappelling, hiking, white-water rafting, and other action-packed activities.

Starting out with thunderstorms and rain during the first two evenings of our stay, our first two afternoons were filled with fun, floating down a natural waterslide and swimming in the Youghigheny River.  The natural waterslide in the state park had been carved out by the flowing water creating these smooth rock flumes, where you can slide down and land in a pool at the end of the slide.  In the pool, there were areas deep enough for the kids to jump off into the pool.  Jumping off the rocks was the popular activity of the day.

 

Campers got to slide down the natural waterslide and jump off rocks into pools.
Campers got to slide down the natural waterslide and jump off rocks into pools.

Tuesday, we traveled to Uniontown to the Laurel Caverns Geological Park.  This park is home to Pennsylvania’s Largest Cave.  In the morning, the group got to go rappelling.  We were able to rappel 40 feet from the top of the ledge to the bottom in the area known as, “Devil’s Staircase.”

Rappelling in Laurel Caverns.
Rappelling in Laurel Caverns.

On Wednesday, the Laurel adventurers traveled to Powdermill Nature Reserve to watch researchers capture, band, and release migratory bird in the morning.  That afternoon we hiked in Laurel Summit State Park.  When we reached the end of the Wolf Rocks trail, the overlook was stunning and a small cave was fun as we crawled through the tight crevices.

Hiking and overlook viewing Summit State Park
Hiking and overlook viewing Summit State Park

Thursday, was our last full-day of adventuring.  White-water rafting was our biggest and WETTEST activity of the day.  The campers woke up early in the morning and headed over to Laurel Highland River Tours for training and prep before we took no the Youghigheny River.  We had a blast taking on and conquering the Category 3 and 4 rapids.  We finished the journey a few hours after lunch and then hung out and swam at Cucumber Falls.

White-water rafting and swimming at Cucumber Falls.
White-water rafting and swimming at Cucumber Falls.

This trip was by far, the most action-packed, fun-filled, and amazing experience for both the campers and the instructors.  This adventure could not have happened without the trust, cooperation, and teamwork that these kids and instructors expressed for one another for a safe and fun-filled camp.

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