Yosemite Summer Camp Tradition
After nearly a full week of adventure in Yosemite National Park, each youth participant in our summer camp backpacking series is “branded” with a bracelet. This “Adventure Bracelet” as it has come to be named, serves to remind the youth about the awesome week-long adventure they accomplished in the Yosemite backcountry. Usually the “Bracelet Ceremony” occurs on the last day of the trip. Sometimes on top of Half Dome or another amazing sunset location or besides the river in Little Yosemite Valley while looking at the stars and reminiscing about the highlights and new friendships that occurred during the past week. The official “branding” occurs when each participant is called up individually to have the bracelet professionally fitted (cut to size and melted and connected at the ends.) During this time each youth is also awarded a nickname from our staff usually relating to a personal highlight for the youth from the trip.
Over the years, youth have had different names for the bracelet including: Friendship Bracelet, Memory Bracelet, Bonding Bracelet, Accomplishment Bracelet, Half Dome Bracelet, etc. It is obvious that these bracelets hold special meanings to each participant that we feel is best rooted in the challenging, supportive, fun, and significant experience they just participated in; otherwise known as “Adventure.”
Many participants find it hard to part with their bracelets and they take them with them on their travels through life including new schools, new jobs, and new adventures. One time I was stopped on the beach in Tahoe where some past participants (now young adults) stopped me and pointed to their bracelets (still intact) and said with pride, “We have been to college, hiked Europe, and on other great trips; but nothing compares to those Yosemite trips back in the day.” Over the years referees have been the main cause for many replacement bracelets being ordered. One parent left us a message about how upset his daughter was at her soccer game when the referee asked her to cut-off her bracelet. She made her father call us for a replacement. Some participants even try to collect one bracelet for every year that they participate. And on one special occasion, I was witness to a Yosemite Bracelet being placed into the casket of a special young man and past participant on our trips, who passed at the young age of 23. The bracelet was being shared by a good friend who had developed his friendship (with the now deceased) through shared adventures over many seasons in the Yosemite backcountry with Lasting Adventures.
Our Yosemite Adventure Bracelets are a unique tradition on our Summer Camp program that will continue for years to come. The tradition has even started to expand to our Guide Service Backpacking programs. Don’t be afraid to ask your Guide if they have bracelet material as most carry them and would love to take the time to help you embed your lifelong memories with Lasting Adventures in Yosemite. : )