TECH Student Spends Summer Learning in the Rockies

It isn’t every day that a high school student from the south side of Chicago finds himself having a moment of epiphany while he struggles down a snow-capped Colorado mountain, but that’s exactly the position that Emanuel, a rising senior at Perspectives Charter Schools High School of Technology, found himself in at a very unique intensive summer youth camp based in Colorado. Founded in 1921, Cheley prides itself on being a place where young people can find themselves.

“There was this moment of inner learning,” Emanuel explains, “where I realized that you can’t just be stubborn, and it’s not just about you.” This was the moment when he struggled to continue with his hike and another member of his expedition circled back to help him. The camp was full of struggles and triumph alike. Emanuel’s personal favorite activity of the camp was a three-day-long mountain bike ride, because though he struggled a bit in the earlier part of the trek, he rode in the front of pack during the ride back. Those moments of growth and learning gave Emanuel an experience that he’s brought back with him to Chicago – along with a more open mind and less dependence on technology, he says.

The transformative experience Emanuel had isn’t uncommon for students returning from Cheley – discovering independence, self-reliance, and confidence, but also growing closer with their peers and realizing that they are part of a greater social fabric. Combining the classical elements of an all-American summer camp – an outdoors adventure in the beautiful Colorado mountains – with bonding activities that build trust and support among its campers helps Cheley foster a truly special experience.

For Emanuel, that experience came at an excellent time. He’s the first student from Perspectives to receive a scholarship to attend Cheley, and he jumped at the chance to go. At a time where students in Chicago have suffered from the stress of violence and educational funding cuts, four weeks at Cheley is a truly powerful opportunity. It’s given Emanuel the chance to apply some of the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life® outside of the classroom in the wild and wonderful mountains of Colorado. Specifically, Emanuel drew upon the principle demonstrate perseverance when he “learned to push himself beyond his believed limits” during the challenging uphill portions of the mountain bike ride that he enjoyed so much. Emanuel reflects that Cheley gave him a look into a whole different kind of education that transcends classroom walls and flourishes in the great outdoors, teaching its students about unity, beauty, humility, and teamwork.  And Emanuel is bringing those lessons back home with him as he heads into his senior year.