I spent the summer humbled in the Eldorado Forest; a tiny speck among the thousands of 60+ foot trees. After 45 minutes of driving up a steep, windy road with endless blind turns I first arrived at the camp that would be my home for the rest of the summer. A reservoir to ourselves, endless forest to play in and a scatter of cabins that would soon be filled with loud, excitable children. At first the place was too beautiful, like walking on tiptoes on a fresh carpet in a nice home. By the end of the summer the unknown wonder of the area began to feel like home and not just a beautiful untouchable place. The most gorgeous sunsets that set behind the silhouettes of the pine trees and the still, glassed reservoir began to be my entertainment every night, the trees of impressive height became as normal as street lights, and the lack of internet and cell phone service came as a breeze of solitude. The summer had endless stories which will come out over time, but for now just the simplicity of the place.
There was only a handful of cabins, a main dinning area, basketball court, arts and crafts area and then the water front just down the dirt path. When the kids arrived their bags were thrown into a pile just like Parent Trap, we’d bring the kids to the pile of bags and tell them to hunt for theirs. They loved every bit. The meals were loud with chants, the nights filled with laughter from making fun of the counselors on stage in front of the camp fire. Some kids came to camp with friends from kindergarten and some came knowing no one, those kids impressed me. The kids thrived outside of their comfort zones and couldn’t stop smiling. I thought all my focus would always be on the kids when I first got there and of course it was, but when it was staff training I felt like a little six year old a camp for the first time too.
When I first got there I had two specific thoughts, None of these people are climbers and I’ve never lived or worked with women, now I have to do both. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to talk to these people about since I couldn’t talk climbing, and I didn’t know how to deal with women, I have been living with guys and guys have been my best friends for years so now to be suddenly surrounded by female co-workers and to work with young girls, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. That ended up being one of the greatest things about camp. I connected with people I normally would never speak a word to in the real world, I discovered new parts of me because they helped me see beyond how I see myself. Once strangers brought the best out of me.
Summer camp left an imprint in my life. I thought it would be just a normal summer job, take up three months of my life then quickly dissolve into my memory bank. That is how all my different schools have left me, how my time in different travels has left me, just a quick moment quickly forgotten. This summer camp made an impact, a huge impact on my life, not to sound cliche, but it’s true. After months of wondering why this camp is/was impacting me so profoundly I found out it was because it was my life for three months 24/7. I was with just about 70 staff members for three months, 24/7, with kids had often had a lasting impact in my memory. Being with the same people everyday is what made this experience make and impression and not dissolve.