Today we’re announcing the winners of our 2015 Rock-N-Water Essay Contest!  This is our first year collecting these and we think you’ll be as pleased as we were to read them.  Students of all ages, guides, youth directors, chaperones and even parents submitted 90 entries.  Thank you all!

This Thursday we’ll post our first place winner’s post in full.  To wet your appetite here are excerpts from all three of our top picks:


1st Place – by Danae Cromwell

I expected to hear some cool, well-worded, “convicting” messages during evening campfire times. I expected my leaders and the RNW guides to tell me to try to really hear God through nature and to hold onto the knowledge of His presence even after I went home. Of course I heard and received all of these things, but I found that this camp is about so much more than preaching a good message or even challenging fears and taking risks; although those things are important.

That week, every single guide and staff member I interacted with took an interest in me.

They were interested in me.

{Excerpt from Take an Interest by Danae Cromwell, First Place $100}

 2nd Place – by Anonymous

Tilting her head back, she looks to the sky, which now glows with the help of its moon and all its stars. As she stares she feels impossibly small. Her nose is cold, and her stomach empty, but she knows, soon, she will be well fed and warm. She breathes in the cold air and exhales a whisper. ‘Thank you.’

{Excerpt from Conversations by Anonymous, Second Place $85}

girls on a California field trip making flour tortillas

It’s not just adventures that make Rock-N-Water an amazing place to be!

3rd Place – by Sianah Britto

Rock-N-Water is the best place to be,
Every part is unique, every stick, stone, and tree.
At Rock-N-Water there’s always something to do,
You’ll never be idle, I’m telling you!

Exploring old, fragile mines, trampling in the dense, leafy woods,
You might even find a shiny gold nugget if you could!
Even the food is scrumptious, especially the hot, soft buns,
Scrubbing the dirty dishes in the soapy, sud-filled water is surprisingly fun!

{Excerpt from Rock-N-Water – A Poem by Sianah Britto, Third Place $65}

rappelling on a backpacking adventure camp

High-fives to everyone who showed courage and vulnerability by submitting their writing!

Honorable Mention

Much praise also goes to our three honorable mentions that depending on who was doing the judging could just as easily have jumped into one of the top three places.

  • A Million Times Over – by Sydney Sykes
  • Rock-N-Water – A poem by Julia Stefik
  • Rock-N-Water: A Trip to Remember! – by Kayla Yee

We can’t wait to share more with you from these and many other talented writers who submitted entries to the 2015 Rock-n-water Essay Contest!  Congratulations to the above authors and to the 80+ others that shared their stories with us.