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What Brings Us Back

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Hello! My name is Cat. I’m a first year counselor here at GRP, and I’m writing to tell you a little about my journey with the GRP family and how it fully connects to the community here today. Around the age of seven, I remember sitting with my mother at the kitchen table watching a video of kids my age with wild hair standing under a water fall screaming “POLAR BEAR” and smiling as if there was no place they’d rather be. My mom told me that those kids went to a place called Green River Preserve, a summer camp for gifted children. She asked if I wanted to go that summer, and I gave her an enthusiastic yes.

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It turned out to be the right decision, and I spent time from my next five summers hiking mountains, eating incredible food, and learning what I often felt was more than I ever learned in the classroom. GRP became a place where I could feel safe and express myself freely. I built shelters for tiny animals, sang songs at the top of my lungs, and found the bravery to conquer the high jump into the lake. Among all this, I learned how to build my self confidence – how to push myself out of my comfort zone and prove, not to other people, but to myself, that I could do things that I had never thought would be within my reach. These were all lifelong lessons, and they served me well through grade school and even through my first year of college.

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Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was also finding a place for myself in a community that would welcome me back with open arms almost a decade later. At the end of this past school year in our nation’s metropolitan capital, I decided it was time for me to get back into the natural world. I wanted to go back to my roots, where I felt most at home, and I was finally of age to be a counselor at GRP. However, this meant more than just that I was going to be able to return to a place and a family that I loved. It meant that I was going to be able to help create for other campers the life-changing experience that GRP had given me. It meant the opportunity to be a friend, a motivator, a mentor, to young people that may grow up to change the world, and that was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

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Little has changed in my time away from camp. Some faces have come and gone, but the purpose of this place remains the same. I will always be grateful to the members of the GRP community, current and alumni, for maintaining such a beautiful place for children and adults alike to learn and grow in a healthy, natural way, and as the sun sets on the last day, I’ll know I spent my summer in the right place.

Story by Trailing Cedar Counselor, Catherine Martin, with photos by Brandon S. Marshall