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A New Home

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The second session’s adjustment period (Days 1-4) was a time of bubbling philosophical conflict between campers and counselors. Campers carried the youthful flags of spontaneity and exuberance. They campaigned for a world without slippery rocks or sunburns, where bags could be packed instantly, and lifeguards were a mere frivolity: a world without forethought or consequence. Across the metaphorical field counselors walked beneath the adult banners of schedule and discipline, values passed down by our elders and administrators. We insisted that beds must be made, activities attended on time, plates cleaned and tables cleared: a world without pause for unbridled appreciation. The two camps marched earnestly into the fray and - like any good conflict-management seminar will encourage - met in the middle. Campers have learned the schedule’s necessities of safety and preparation, and counselors have learned respect and admiration for enthusiasm so strong it will move your legs to run.

“To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

This conflict is not unique to GRP. Anywhere there is an authority figure the struggle for self-determination shall ensue. Anywhere there is a bedtime, there will -at some point- be a request for five more minutes. It is a struggle in which one can only hope to conduct ourselves admirably, with deep honesty and respect for our adversary’s needs and goodwill. What is unique to GRP is the place of these values in our camp culture and environment.

In the camp culture, these values of honesty and respect are agreed upon by all campers and staff members at the beginning of each session in the aptly named Respect Circle. They are agreed upon during the Upper Council Fires with the readings of the Woodcraft Laws. And they are agreed upon every day in the small acts of living at GRP: nobody eats until everyone is served, three “warm fuzzies” are owed for every disparaging comment, games are scored as fun-to-fun; and everyone shares their Rose, Bud, and Thorn at the end of the day. As for the environment, its uniqueness is self-evident. Thirty minutes away from Brevard, NC there is not a TV or cell phone in sight. As campers look reflexively for the immediate entertainment of technology’s latest creation for a distraction, they are met with peacefully waving grass fields, the friendly faces of other GRPers, and the patient enjoyment of afternoon activities. Towering oaks and poplar trees create canopies and corridors while sourwood and sweet birch provide an evening’s snack. The fields are lit each night by the moon, and stars shine unobscured by the pollution of city lights. This land is the refuge of the wayward camper. It supplies its own lessons, beauty, and reverence, asking of us only our respect.

Story by Ben Goldman with Photos by Brandon S. Marshall & Samantha Keebler

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“The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson