It’s often easy in our day to day lives to forget the world doesn’t revolve around us, to forget that this green earth is so much more than the hustle and bustle of city life. Our campers, however, are discovering and rediscovering things throughout the day (and that’s how we know we’re doing our job right). This morning, per usual, campers set out to various areas of the preserve for their mentor hikes, where the discoveries start each day. They learned about cool, edible plants in the area like sourwood, sassafras, greenbrier, and sweet birch (although sweet birch is used more as natural, last-minute dental care than as food).
The learning didn’t stop there though. Far from it. More campers joined the polar bear club at Uncle’s Falls, an activity quickly followed by brief excursions into the renowned Salamander Cave (less of a cave and more of a large crack known for its general abundance of salamanders).
Some campers even learned about the territoriality of the seal salamander (you’ll have to ask them about that one). When we returned to lunch, the Lodge was absolutely abuzz with cool tidbits of information, newly learned by campers and by staffers. One of my own campers kept raving to me about a wolf spider he found down at Hemlock Field; he was particularly excited about the behavior of the mother and how she carries her babies on her back until they can fend for themselves. Towards the end of lunch, it was revealed that one mentor group even saw some wild turkeys, getting us that much closer to a Grand Slam. All we need to see now are some deer, a venomous snake, and a black bear.
As the day carried on, so did the discoveries. From fly fishing and nature art to rock climbing and canoeing, campers learned more about the world around them and the skills they need and can use to enjoy it in all its natural beauty. Activities continued until free time, with campers learning how to move through the woods silently (disturbing as little as possible) and how to properly cook a meal outdoors using only the resources immediately available. Free time, happening as I write this, largely involves campers exploring the base camp area, learning about and experiencing new things on their own (but properly supervised, of course), and playing one wicked game of Ultimate Frisbee. Later tonight we’ll be having a variety show where campers will get to show off their various skills and talents, whether they be previously known or recently discovered though their time here on the preserve. While discovery is the theme of today’s blog entry (if you haven’t guessed by now), you can rest assured that the discoveries won’t stop today. They will continue throughout the camp session, both for campers and for staffers. GRP is a magical place- a place where we can relax, enjoy the world that should be around us and truly be our best selves.