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It is our second full day of Session 4 here at the Preserve, and already, two rattlesnakes and a few black bears have been spotted, giving us a head start on our Grand Slam. Last night, campers flooded the field for a game of Predator vs. Prey, and this morning, they dispersed once more for their morning mentor hikes.

We are settling into the camp routine again here at GRP—cleaning tables after mealtimes, wandering from activity to activity, finding buddies with whom to jump into the lake during Free Time. Life here feels at once fast-paced and remarkably slow, the bewildering result of days that are unrelentingly busy and yet refreshingly uncomplicated, filled with event after event and yet somehow perpetually peaceful.

The way we live life here, then, is simple: have fun, respect one another, be present, be kind, and, of course, keep your eyes peeled for the rest of those Grand Slam animals. We wake up each morning in basic cabins that boast little save beds, bathrooms, and community, and we wander to the Lodge, where we enjoy meals together as a family. We spend our mornings, afternoons, and evenings outside, and we end our nights circled together on the floor of our cabin, sharing about our days. Sometimes, a counselor might sing a song or read part of a book as their campers fall asleep.

This simplicity is what makes GRP such a refuge and home: our campers are free to leave their worries at the door and to plunge wholeheartedly into a place that promises respite from the outside world, with whatever challenges it may present. We go to sleep to the sound of cicadas and frogs, and we wake up to a bell. We forge relationships quickly, and, without the presence of electronics, we are able to be present and to experience the world through an unfiltered lens. Although life is busy here, it is also a place where many campers experience a profound sense of calm, and we hope they leave at the end of this session feeling at once tired from the adventures they have had and renewed by the way of life they have experienced here.

Story by Katherine Poore with Photos by Brandon S. Marshall

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