Exploring Purgatory Chasm


Pulling into the parking lot of Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, the van full of BCYF fifth and sixth graders, who had previously been enjoying quiet conversations and morning naps, now chattered and squirmed excitedly in their seats. Directly in front of where the van parked was a large smooth rock face, just steep enough to comfortably slide down. Immediately, the kids wanted to know if they could go explore what appeared to be a promising adventure. After water bottles were filled and sunscreen was applied, our Lead Instructor, Nick, agreed to a rock-sliding warmup before the hike. Giving a safety demonstration first, Nick educated the kids on how to get down the rocks with a move he called “the technical butt slide.” Once they had mastered the very important, and highly professional move, the kids were off, climbing and sliding down the face of the rock. Following the impromptu warm-up, it was time to hike. Beginning at the base of the chasm, the kids were thrilled to be thrown straight into action. Right away, there were opportunities to scramble up rocks, catch views from ledges, and explore something totally new. 

The peak excitement came when two special moments happened simultaneously. As Nick showed some kids a hidden rock cave, others spotted a long garter snake hunting a spider. While some of our youth gasped at the splendor of the naturally occurring cave, others exclaimed about the wildlife. 


After thoroughly exploring the chasm, we continued on a short loop around the reservation, enjoying a summer day that seemed to be the first in weeks void of oppressive humidity. We finished the afternoon with a game of ultimate frisbee in the reservation’s green space, tiring ourselves out so that most heads nodded off to sleep in the van ride home. My last summer outing ended in a happy exhaustion that I had learned to expect at the end of any Elevate Youth trip. I rode back in the van amongst a group of dozing kids, slightly dirty, smelling of bug spray and sunscreen, reflecting on a summer of outdoor adventures, smiling faces, and an experience I will never forget.

by Kate Lietz, Elevate Youth Summer Intern

Annie Hayes