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“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” ― Albert Szent-Györgyi

Although our one-week session is the shortest of the Preserve’s sessions, it nevertheless remains a week full of new friendships and new memories. Most of our campers arrived Sunday morning, some full of nervousness and others full of excitement, to a new place, where every face was new and unfamiliar, and their roommates for the week felt like strangers.

Now on our final full day of camp, this trepidation has all but dissipated for most campers. Instead of hesitant interactions around the dinner table, campers talk openly with one another as they pass around food and speculate about Ortman and Scrappy (GRP’s resident superheroes, committed to reducing food waste both on the Preserve and at home). Their connections feel real and genuine, and the friendships here—though quickly formed—are meaningful ones, forged in a setting with little distraction and a constant emphasis on kindness, authenticity, presence, and, of course, endless fun.

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The rapidity with which these campers form friendships is a testament to the magic of camp. While sitting in the Pottery Studio, eating breakfast together, creeping through the woods during Predator vs. Prey—one of GRP’s more iconic evening programs—or exploring the woods on a morning hike, campers are finding connection and commonalities, learning about one another, and experiencing together the wonder of constant and joyful discovery, of learning new and astounding things, and of having the space to be the person you are.

At GRP, these friendships often last a lifetime, and we as staff, too, experience the same wonderful sense of connection with the campers who become a part of this community and home. The children who pass through the Preserve each summer amaze us, and we feel grateful to be in a position to know the children here, to witness their growth and discovery, and to laugh alongside them as they revel in silliness, in beauty, in adventure, and in friendship with one another.

Story by Katherine Poore & Photos by Brandon S. Marshall