The first thing you hear when you wake up in the morning is birds. Sometimes, it’ll be the sweet song of nature calling out to itself, a special type of symphony that you’re more a passive witness to than an active participant in. Sometimes, it’ll be the grating call of crows, immediately followed by the groans of your cabin mates as you all collectively realize that it’s not going to stop until the wake-up bell rings. The roar of cars, and trains, and emergency vehicles is completely absent, either way.
Sunlight streams in through your window, and as you slowly start to pull yourself out of sleep, the stillness of the moment grants you awareness of something special: you, and the people you share a living space with – your hearts beat as one. And here, in quiet moments, it’s more apparent than ever that the thread connecting all life is strong.
Camp life is very activity-focused and for good reason. This is the place to experience things that you’ve never experienced before. Where else are you going to get the opportunity to win an ice cream party because you saw (a few very specific) animals wandering about? Anyone can go on a hike to a waterfall, but can everyone say they’ve hiked with a nature expert who taught them all about how to identify the edible plants on the trail? But in an environment where everyone is always looking forward to writing letters about the latest “big thing” they’ve experienced and done, it’s important to reflect on the little things, too.
Things like the giddy feeling of dressing up like the rest of your cabin for Twin Night. Or the rush of excitement you feel when you successfully score a resource in Predator Prey. Or the way you might start to feel the heat radiating off your skin and your heart pumping blood through every part of your body once you’ve been hiking uphill for a while. Even the collective sigh of relief that runs through your cabin when your counselor triumphantly reports that the toilet has been successfully plunged.
Things like the sound of birds.
Story by Li Shuford with photos by Brandon S. Marshall & Samantha Keebler