During the year I live in Downtown Winston-Salem and each May I pack up my trunk and head to the mountains for a summer at Eagle’s Nest Camp. I grew up in the country (hiking in creeks and making forts in the woods), so being able to live in the heart of the city is exciting. I love hearing the hum and whistle of trains as they pass through town in the night, walking from my house to grab a cup of coffee and seeing the faces of familiar strangers, and looking at the detailed patterns etched into the architecture that built the downtown many years ago. I also feel extremely fortunate that I am able to spend the summer in a rural setting – listing to the sounds so the bullfrogs at night, walking from my cabin to the Dining Hall and smiling and the faces of campers and staff, and looking at the detailed patterns etched into the bark of the trees that shelter us.

At camp we spend the majority of our time outside, and when we are inside it’s in rustic open air cabins and buildings that let the breezes flow through and seem connected to the landscape. Our days are structured around being outdoors – playing soccer on the Athletic Field, building bird houses in an outdoor woodshop, taking hikes in the woods, and singing songs around a campfire. We don’t need spend hours of our day working at desks. I find it both energizing and comforting to know what the weather is like all day long –  when the sun rises, when it sets, what cycle of moon we’re in, what plants are flowering…It’s easier to know those things when I’m at camp and my day is centered around being outside, but I have found that I can still experience the outdoors and nature when I’m home in the city.

These days, while our personal interactions have shifted to many hours of meetings or classes in front of screens, we are also finding more time to get outside. More people are walking, riding bikes, sitting outside at cafes or picnicking in small parks. In a time when it seems more difficult to connect with people, people are leaving their houses and apartments and connecting with the outside. There seems to be a greater urgency to leave the shelter of our homes and safely explore other opportunities. I still find comfort seeing the cycle of the moon, the changing of the leaves and the brilliance of autumn sunsets. In a world that is currently so uncertain, some things remain the same.

As we start to head into the colder month of the winter, I encourage you to think about ways that you can continue to find time outside. I think that you will find energy and comfort from doing so.

By Paige Lester-Niles