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.
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.
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.
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