Through the din and the energy and the chaos and the pure exhaustion that exemplifies summer camp, it is incredibly easy to forget about the place where you chose to live and work. The long involved days with an endless to-do list of activities keeps one distracted from the distinctiveness of your location. You grow immune to the landscape of the place you work, gradually forgetting the immense beauty of the natural surroundings that drew you to camp in the first place. With so much to do outside everyday, it is easy to take this close access to nature for granted. The subtle beauty of nature often slips the mind…
As the last summer campers file out the gates, the camp staff can pause and breathe deeply, reflecting on the summer past. Then there’s this sudden realization. It is quiet once again. But not a silent quiet—a quiet absorbed with sounds. All around are the songs of the earth. The chirping of the insects, the shrill call of the birds, the gentle breeze rustling the tree-tops. Breathe deeply and listen closer to these sounds. They have been calling forth all summer long, but not until now have they received an attentive listener. It is the contrast from the clamor of summer camp that reawakens the ears to nature’s melodies.
The quiet moment encourages you to explore deeper. No commitments now. Please linger and understand what’s here. The forest paths that you walked hurriedly past all summer are now empty. Slow your pace. Look up and gaze amidst the trees. See the dappled light filtering through their leafs perched an immense height above the ground. Then look down, closely, all the way to the ground. Amid the brush lie flowers, the embodiment of the fecundity of nature. Stoop down close and admire their elaborate forms. They sprinkle the ground in all their intricate glory, yet are often overlooked by man; their complex beauty is but for their own sake. Through the air wafts the fragrance of the bushes. Breathe deeply, and take it all in. How many times have you been here before and not noticed this?
It is moments like these when it gets quiet, when life takes a momentary pause, that I begin to reflect on what brought me to this place to begin with. This is where I live. This is where I have chosen to stay. For me, an enticing draw of the camp life is to live and work in these beautiful places, daily immersed in the wonders of the natural world. In the busyness that life often rings upon us, it becomes difficult to take the necessary moment to realize the beauty that surrounds you. It is here all along waiting for your attention. The question is: will you stop and notice it?
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from camp! This summer has flown by. I can’t believe I’ve been in camp for over seven weeks now. Just one more week and camp will end and I’ll be going home. I’m going to miss all the fun things there are to do at camp. I don’t want to go back to school so soon either 😦
I’ve been keeping very busy at camp this summer. There are lots of activities and things to do. So far I’ve done a lot of disc golf, mountain biking, ecology, and lifeguarding. Mountain biking is my new favorite activity. We get to ride the bikes around the trails at camp. Sometimes we even get to ride trails outside of camp. Last week I was riding and fell. I got a big bruise on my knee, but I’m okay :). I’m still really hoping to learn how to sail in the last week of camp. Sometimes after all the daily activities are finished, I like to sneak off with the other staff members and go for a paddle at night.
Camp is beautiful! The north woods in Wisconsin are so different from life back in the city! I swear it must’ve taken twenty hours to drive here on the busses. We’re in the middle of nowhere! Camp is surrounded by really tall trees and it’s right on the lake. It’s so different to be surrounded by all this nature. I can hear the birds chirping and see the fireflies at night. There’s even a family of bear that wanders through camp (plus there are rumors that squirrels live inside the roof of the lodge). The mosquitos are pretty bad. I’ve gone through lots of bug spray. The stars at night are amazing. One of the counselors got us up in the middle of the night to see the northern lights!
I’ve made lots of new friends at camp. Lots of people have been to camp before, so at first I thought I wouldn’t fit in. But pretty soon I couldn’t tell who is new and who has been here before. My cabin is pretty small. I live with two other trip staff and the tennis pro. We get along, but we don’t spend much time in our cabin. It gets really hot during the day, plus it’s pretty messy. I don’t think my cabin will ever get a cabin pride award for cleanliness.
I’ve hung out with lots of different campers this summer. It’s surprising how easy it is to make friends with people. The youngest campers like to have lots of fun. We play in the water or go down the slip-n-slide. The older kids are cool. They know a lot of stuff and are really good at sports. I wasn’t sure if they’d want to hang out, but they all say hi to me and include me in activities too.
I can’t wait to go back home and have some of your food, Mom :). The food here is awful. I’m so sick of eating tinfoil surprise. There’s a salad bar, but one of my cabinmates always hogs the salad bar pass. By the time I get to the salad bar the yogurt is always gone and there are beans dropped in the cottage cheese. We used to have dessert at lunch, but then the kitchen started giving us fruit instead. We can’t have peanuts at camp either. We have this fake ‘peanut butter’ made of sunflower seeds. It’s called Sunbutter. People say it tastes terrible, but I really really like it. I want some more when I go back home. The thing I look forward to most at mealtimes is cheering after we are done eating. My cabin doesn’t cheer the most, but when we want to we can be the loudest to pound on the tables.
Each day we wake up to the camp bell. Most of my cabin mates have to rush to breakfast.If you’re last, then you have to clean up after the meal. Sometimes I get up really early in the morning to walk around while it’s still quiet. I get to see lots of animals that way, like giant snapping turtles. After breakfast we have to clean up our cabins. Then we have two different activity periods before lunch. After lunch we have a rest period. Camp makes us write letters during rest period, or else they won’t give us our mail :(. After rest period we have two more activity periods and then an hour of organized free time before dinner. Our evening program is always different. Camp has a lot of fun games that they do every year.
I’ve gone on lots of trips this summer too. Each cabin gets to go on their own wilderness trip. The youngest campers go on the Namekagon, Saint Croix, or Flambeau rivers. My favorite trip this year was on the Brule River. That was a four day trip with really hard rapids. The last night of the trip we stayed at a creepy campsite haunted by the ghost of a baby-snatcher. I can’t wait until I can go on the Canadian in two years as a Pine Manor camper. This year I also went on two mountain biking trips and did an overnight solo trip. I was pretty scared to sleep out in the woods by myself with nothing but a tarp. But I survived and I’m really proud of myself!
Gotto go. There’s a game of North Star Ball coming up after rest period.
Miss you all. Can’t wait to see you soon 🙂