The crisp morning air sent chills down my spine as we lined up behind the start line. Echoes of announcers and excited parents with cow bells rang through my ears, a murmur of voices filling my head. I could feel the nervous pit of adrenaline in my stomach as I glanced towards my younger sister and teammate, Kate, for encouragement. I had always lacked that insatiable drive for competition that everyone else seemed to have, so I couldn't decide whether I was more nervous for the race itself or excited for it to be over. Standing at the starting line at age 12, I would have never imagined how the Vail Kids Adventure Games could have become the highlight of my summer, teaching me more about competition and a community than anything else I had endeavored throughout my youth.
The ten second count started as our wave was about to take off. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”, the announcer shouted - and we were off! As I peddled up the steep hills on my mountain bike, maneuvered my way through an underground tunnel, swung from rope to rope on the ropes course, bush-whacked my way through a weed-populated Pepi's face, and crawled through a mud pit, I not only learned how much I could push my physical abilities, but I grew as a competitor and a teammate.
Before we both knew it, my sister and I ran across the finish line, mud-caked and scraped legs burning, with nothing but smiles on our faces. The nerves had dissipated, leaving only good feelings and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Sliding in close to the bottom of the pool of participants, nothing seemed to matter except the fact that through great teamwork, we crossed the finish line together. I now craved the outdoors and all that it had to offer, drinking in the sunshine and the experience all together. The Kids Adventure Games became the highlight of my summer.
A returning competitor of three years, I’ve competed alongside my younger sister and my best friend. While encountering physically challenging and unusual obstacles together, you learn a lot about yourself and your partner as teammates, beyond the realm of being a sister and a best friend. You learn to counter each other's abilities and persevere through tough obstacles, becoming a team instead of two individuals. Becoming better teammates enables you to become a better competitor, and the race becomes less of a series of events against the clock and more about enjoying the experience. Encouraging and excited volunteers don't meet you at each obstacle pressing you for speed, but instead greeted us with smiles, cheers, and a helping hand. The Kid's Adventure Games shaped me into the competitor and the teammate I am today. It also has helped me to become a better person in everyday, team-building endeavors at school and any activity I do with my friends and family. The race aided in the development of my love for the outdoors as well as giving me memories to carry with me for the rest of my life. As a result of The Kid's Adventure Games, I have learned how not only how to love competition, but a community.
Alison Altman is 18 years old and a senior at Colorado Academy. She is a varsity diver, violinist, retired-gymnast, and lover of all things outdoors. She lives in Golden, CO with her parents, John & Leslie Altman, sister Kate and Goldendoodle Ginger.