Community, Camp & Celebration

The 4th year of Bikes and Barnyards proved to be the biggest and best yet.  Kevin Hicks and Triangle Bikeworks are partners of Abundance NC. It’s the perfect partnership.  We supply some woo woo, farm, fun and environmental education.  Kevin and his team cover all things bicycle and we all work on leadership, confidence and life lessons.

Kevin’s mission is to promote teamwork, strengthen communications, deepen responsibility, compassion and heighten sensitivity to the natural world through adventures for youth.  In particular youth of color.

The sport of biking is not exclusively white.

Kevin created the Spoke’n Revolutions youth cycling program in 2011 to address the persistent achievement gap between Black and Latino students and their White and Asian peers. To provide a challenging summer learning experience and out-of-school activities that prepare kids for success.  Now it’s much more than that. He takes them on tours like the Trail of Tears, the Underground Railroad and Buffalo Soldiers and Lewis and Clark.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week “the number of children ages 6 to 17 who rode bicycles regularly more than 25 times a year decreased by more than a million from 2014 to 2018, according to Sports & Fitness Industry Association.  That includes both casual rides around the neighborhood and more serious cycling for fitness or competition”.

LeBron James says “It’s a way to let go and be free” and indeed the kids last week learned about “coasting” from Leif Diamant with Spirit Bikeology.  A bit of mindfulness and being present is sprinkled in along with gratitude and joy.

Throughout the week of Bikes and Barnyards, the kids went back and forth from games to honeybee education, sustainable agriculture, learning about goats and planting sweet potatoes.  Taylor Houchens taught drums and percussion. Because the act of drumming is an act of exposure, Taylor witnessed some hurt feelings with the drummers and held an impromptu coaching session on the problem with bullying.  Being a licensed therapist, he was the perfect person to restore peace and understanding to all!

There was synchronicity all week.

Arlo Estill (camp name: Bishop) of Hempsmith jumped in to take a lead role in camp counseling.  He tie dyed hemp t-shirts with all the kids, played flag football, sang songs and encouraged the kids all week.

Marcela Slade, artist and gallery operator of SMELT, gave a talk on art history and lead sessions of self-portraits.  The artwork was beautiful.

Jean Carlo, our local Italian chef, came and made homemade pizza in our outdoor pizza oven.  Delicious!
All our counselors and educators come to the camp with so much love and care.  Itza, Jessie, Jeimy, Abeo, Arlo, Hannah, Alisa, Willow and others. Huge thanks to all that participated.  It’s such a joy to work with all of these folks.

Bikes and Barnyards Summer Camp taught the kids bike safety, bike maintenance and how to navigate town biking as well as riding on trails.  We worked up to THE BIG RIDE which we have every Thursday of the camp. The Chatham County Sheriff deputy arrives promptly at 3pm. We line up our campers on bikes at The Plant in Pittsboro to take the 8 mile ride to Jordan Lake where we cookout and they all camp overnight.

This year, we had a lot more campers….37 to be exact.  At our volunteer kickoff meeting we thought it would be fun to pump up the kids in a sort of Braveheart way by bringing in a bagpiper and put some war paint on our faces.  So that is what we did. We held a serious talk with them about the challenge of the ride, the danger of being on Highway 64, how to ride with distance between bikes, single file, no big holes between bikers and to pay attention.  Arlo put on his kilt, painted his face and a bagpiper appeared out of the woods playing ceremonial songs. Sheriff Mike Roberson, his wife and several officers just happened to come by to give the kids a safety talk and say hello.

Our bagpiper started the march towards the parking lot playing Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train.  We lined up and began the BIG RIDE.

All was well until we started seeing the huge black skyline.

I thought if we just went faster and didn’t stop we could make it.  Sheriff Roberson waved me over and said “Radar shows a huge storm ahead, we have to find shelter”.  I asked him if he could take over in herding the kids and all the officers that were with us.  He expertly directed everyone to take cover at a business on Hwy 64. Almost 50 folks barged into their store and porch.  They were extremely hospitable with the raucous bunch! We watched the downpour and lightening for about 20 minutes.

We jumped back on the bikes and rode the rest of the way to Jordan Lake.  It was smooth with the 3 sheriff cars blocking traffic on both sides of 64 so we could take a left into our camp ground.  We were so grateful to all of them for being with us the whole time.

As the sheriffs drove away, a huge rainbow appeared above the campers.  Another year of watching these kids grow up.

(special thanks to Peyton Sickles and Annette Roberson for photos!)