“Be kind. Do at least one act of unbargaining service each day. Be helpful. Do your share of the work. Be joyful. Seek the joy of being alive.” Love is the fourth and final Woodcraft Law, and it’s probably the one our longtime returners are most familiar with. Its concluding phrase, “seek the joy of being alive,” or, more simply, “seek the joy,” is quintessential GRP; for years, I’ve signed emails and letters with it, written it with my name on a GRP bus ceiling, and doodled it in notebooks throughout the school year, eagerly awaiting my return to the Preserve. The message is simple: life can and should be lived joyfully; one only has to make the effort. While we see this every day on the Preserve, it was beautifully apparent this morning on our hike to Pretty Place, which involves waking up several hours before dawn and hiking three or so miles (straight up a hill, might I add) to a neighboring camp for a view of the sunrise. The experience has the potential to be pretty miserable; it’s painfully early, it’s steep as all get out, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll even see a sunrise when we get there. But campers found incredible ways to seek joy throughout the experience. Many groups opted to hike in the 5 AM darkness without flashlights and without talking, making the experience one of reverence and fortitude. As groups trickled into Pretty Place, the remaining moments of darkness passed with cabins cuddled together on long benches, savoring the time normally spent sleeping as extra time with their best friends. And when the sun finally rose, we linked arms for a truly special rendition of win-de-ya-ho, our morning blessing, sung many times this session and in these campers’ lives but never quite like that. The sunrise was spectacular, as were the donuts that followed, but, of course, we expected that. Seeking the joy of being alive is about the moments or times in our lives where joy is less obvious, less blatant. It’s choosing to look for joy in those times and, where there isn’t much, creating it.
Story by Lillie Wright with photos by Samantha Keebler & Brandon S. Marshall