Calvert Hall wrestlers do meaningful summer service         

Sometimes when students return to the classroom after the summer, a teacher will ask for an essay on "What I did on my summer vacation." Calvert Hall students are just returning this week, but when Calvert Hall's assistant principal Chuck Stembler heard about the wrestling team's summer service project, he didn't wait for school to start to ask for a story.

Varsity wrestling coach Roy Lobdell, who saw 17 wrestlers -- a little more than half of his roster -- take part in the program, he knew exactly who to put to work on the assignment.

Junior Forrest Rutledge, who received a letter Friday saying he had made the National Honor Society and is the expected starter at the 160-pound weight class, got the call and wrote about the experience.

"I thought it was a cool project," Rutledge said. "And I was sort of surprised that so many of my teammates took part. You'd have thought there would have only been five or six of us given it was summer vacation time."

Doug Heidrick, director of communications/coordinator of alumni reunions at Calvert Hall passed Rutledge's composition along to The Sun:

By Forrest Rutledge

While other high school students across the country were enjoying a relaxing, lazy summer, the Calvert Hall wrestling team decided to sacrifice some of their own time to help those who are often forgotten.

Unlike other service projects in the past, this summer the wrestling team chose to do something that would not only fulfill their service hour requirements, but also be part of something rewarding and challenging.

Under the leadership of Coach Roy Lobdell, the team took part in a four-day service project in which they spent five hours a day interacting with autistic children. This took place at Camp Koski, which is run by the family of Calvert Hall wrestler Luke Koski.

During this four day journey, each camper was assigned either one or two wrestlers (counselors) for the week. Each day the campers participated in activities such as horseback riding, hay rides/nature walks, musical sponge, building goat playgrounds, scavenger hunts, shaving cream fights, kayaking, frog/snake hunting, and in the case of camper Jake C., a little wrestling too- it is a wrestling service project isn't it?

While there was fun had by all, there were moments when the counselors had to deal with issues such as mediating arguments or working to encourage their campers to push beyond their self-imposed limits and step outside of their comfort zones. A goal of Camp Koski is to provide children with special needs the recourses and environment where they can face their challenges or barriers and sometimes smash them while having fun at the same time.

As a counselor, I can tell you that it was very rewarding to see my camper face his fear and go out to the middle of the pond on the last day, when only three days earlier he was terrified of even going ten yards out from the dock. Every counselor at Camp Koski could tell you a similar story and everybody came back rewarded from the experience.

By the end of the fourth day everybody at the camp, either as a camper or counselor, felt like they had given a lot of themselves and were eager to celebrate the end of a very successful week. After all the good byes and thank yous were exchanged between the counselors, the campers and their parents, all the counselors were eager for the celebratory cookout. After plenty of good food and some intense kayak wars in the pond, it was finally time to reflect on the epic four-day journey.

As we received our rewards of Hershey bars and Jolly Ranchers, we reflected on how much it really meant to these kids to have role models to spend time with and look up to. Hopefully everybody who took part in this service project took away more from it than they had planned on and will continue to do so in whatever they pursue.

It should also be noted that without the generosity of the Koski family, none of this would have been possible; so really they are the ones responsible for making the camp the great success it was.