A Handful of Moments
It’s hard for me to fathom, but on this very day four weeks ago I held the hands and looked into the eyes of the people I lived, played, and worked with for 12 weeks as we bid the summer and each other farewell. Nearly a month removed, I am slowly re-adjusting to life outside of the magical Nest. I’ve enjoyed catching up with my favorite neighborhood barista each morning and riding my bike through the woods in the evening. Time spent with family and friends has been nothing less than precious, and I appreciate the freedom to hop in my car or on my bike and simply go. Despite these wonderful additions to my everyday life, I miss camp. I find myself fighting to keep a tight grasp on the memories, experiences and lessons learned during my time on Hart Road this summer. It would be easy to let those memories become hazy with the passing of days and weeks, but I’m determined to hold on.
To aid in making that a reality, I wrote down a handful of memories that I will carry with me. I know that I can’t re-live these experiences, but I’ll do my best to recreate the feelings they gave me on a daily basis – my own way of keeping camp with me throughout the year.
1. During Orientation, our entire staff spent a night camping in Pisgah National Forest. When it was time to set up camp and make dinner, groups of people jumped on each task and the campsite was alive with activity. At one point, I sat in the middle of everything and simply watched. Several people were chopping vegetables and laughing. Others were tying tarps between trees and telling stories about nights they’ve spent in the woods. Another group was lighting stoves and boiling water. Others were strumming their guitar or banjo or mandolin or violin, serenading us with sweet melodies. Rays of orange light cut through the pines, and the eyes of everyone were shining. As I watched, I recall thinking that this was a moment I wouldn’t soon forget.
I will make more time to slow down and cook dinner with my friends and family this year. We’ll take our time and sit together around a table for hours, laughing and reminiscing and scheming and dreaming.
2. I went on a trip with my Mountain Girls class to Skinny Dip Falls on a sunny afternoon in June. Skinny Dip is a beautiful series of waterfalls, complete with a deep swimming hole filled with crystal clear water. One by one, each member of our class climbed to the top of the main jumping rock and made the leap into the water 10 feet below. In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think everyone in our group would jump. After all, the water is frigid and several of our girls weren’t big fans of swimming. But as each stood atop the rock they were cheered on by their peers shouting words of encouragement from below, giving them the strength they needed to take the leap. As we hiked back to the van at the end of the day, the campers chatted about how they couldn’t believe they’d done it; how they would never forget this moment or this day. I had the exact thought.
I will make an effort to do more things that scare me and push the boundaries of my self-imposed limits. I will be open to opportunities and experiences, despite any preconceived notions I may have, and I will give myself fully to them.
3. Most of my days this summer began with an early morning run in the Little River Valley. Getting up long before the bell wasn’t always easy, but I was often rewarded with incredible sunrises. One morning, I finished running with about 15 minutes to spare before the bell rang. Instead of going back to my room, I sat in the grassy area between the settling ponds and watched as the sun rose above the mountains. Brilliant pinks and oranges streaked the sky, and a soft mist hovered over the lake. The beauty of the dawn brought me to tears; I was humbled and full of gratitude.
I will continue to wake up before the sun, even though I don’t have to. I will commit myself to healthy living – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I will work hard, but I’ll also take time to sit quietly while watching the sun rise and set.
4. Hanging out on the porch of the Salt Mines or Dining Hall before meals is one of my favorite things to do at camp. I love spending that time outside chatting with campers and staff. During Session IV, I found myself sitting on the floor of the Dining Hall porch before lunch one day singing along to Avett Brothers songs while an incredibly talented Tree Tops camper played guitar. When we began it was just the two of us, but other campers and staff quickly joined in. I remember hoping that the lunch bell would never ring – I didn’t want it to end. I will sing everyday, alone and with friends.
It’s hard to believe that campers and staff are spread out across the country and the world right now; that the summer is over and they have moved on. We’ve fallen into new routines and have different schedules to follow. We don’t wake up to the bell or say goodnight in a circle in the Quad. Mealtimes aren’t spent with table families and Sundays aren’t reserved for Capture the Flag. But that doesn’t mean camp isn’t still with us. We each carry a handful of memories, of moments that took our breath away and challenged us and made us laugh and helped us grow. It’s our job, now, to recreate those memories in some way everyday.