Not Your Everyday Extracurricular: Meet the Risk Takers of Staples High

Looking down over a 35-foot cliff, one teen stands with the intention of diving into the dark waters of Devil’s Glen, a jump punishable by law.

Another teen is looking up at a  35-foot cliff instead, preparing to climb the mass of rock, with nothing to keep from falling but one measly harness.

And, lastly, a teen is skiing down the terrain park at Okemo Mountain in Vermont,  flying off jumps that are 12 feet high, hoping they’ll be lucky enough to land successfully.

Odds are teenagers feel a thrill at the thought of being able to attempt feats so exhilarating. The driving force of this enticing feeling is the unanswerable question that follows it: What will happen next?

While some would quiver with nervousness as they glance over that edge, some daredevils don’t even have to think twice about making the plunge. For teenage risk-takers, the reason for this is the thrill.

Matty Campbell ’13, is notorious for his menacing outlook on life. His main source of thrill is cliff-jumping at Weston’s Devil’s Glen where he and other Staples students, have dove off the 15-30 foot cliffs into the Saugatuck River. Jumping at this site is now illegal, as a result of many teenagers injuring themselves; however, this doesn’t stop Campbell.

“The idea that the police could come at any moment to kick you out and ruin everything, well, it adds to the thrill,” said Campbell ’13.

According to this daredevil, there is even a jump nicknamed “the suicide leap,” where, in order to successfully land the 35-foot jump, you have to clear about 10 feet of rock. This is a jump that is only attempted by the extreme risk-takers of Staples, including Campbell, Roscoe Brown ’14, and Chris Mombello ’14.

Another student who loves living on the edge is Carly Singer ’14, who gets her thrill by rock climbing in Maine at various locations, her favorite being Mount Katahdin at Baxter State Park. Her favorite thing about rock climbing is the difficulty.

“I like that I am able to be at one with nature and that I have to take what the rock gives me,” Singer said.

Although she doesn’t have the challenge of avoiding the “boys in blue,” as Campbell puts it, she has to deal with whatever Mother Nature hands her. All Singer has to keep  from plummeting to the ground is one safety harness, which she admits makes her feel “safe to a certain extent.” She has no control over what terrain she’s going to have to deal with, making the adventure even more thrilling for her.

Like most risk-takers, Singer’s rock climbing doesn’t intimidate her, despite her fear of heights. “I feel like when I do climb a rock successfully, I am able to do something else that is more challenging,” Singer said.

Robby Giannone ’14 blames his dangerous skiing endeavors on the thrill. “It’s so freeing,” Giannone said. “You feel like you’re invincible.”

Perhaps that’s a feeling every risk-taker can relate to: the rush of adrenaline that feeds the hunger of the inner daredevil, the thrill of doing something you really shouldn’t, and the satisfaction of coming out of it in one piece, with a story to tell.

With all the chaotic chemicals coursing through the brain, it seems as though nerves should be found somewhere in the mix. But they don’t stand a chance with Giannone.

“You don’t really think about the consequences if something goes wrong. You’re so caught up in the moment that it never really crosses your mind,” said Giannone.

Teenage risk-takers agree that the heart-pumping, mind-boggling, chill-raising rush that overcomes them in that one moment keeps them coming back for more.

It’s addictive.