In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World
— Henry David Thoreau
As we head into our final week of camp, I hear the girls saying, “Can you believe it’s almost over?! It feels like we just got here.” This is true for the seven-year campers who cry every summer when they leave us and for the first year campers who did shed homesick tears in the early days of camp. We are eagerly awaiting the return of our older girls – Long Voyage, Maine Trails and some Allagash cabins – and the younger cabins are preparing to help our intrepid travelers settle back into life at camp.
Chapel is a Sunday tradition that allows counselors and campers to take a step of courage to share what is on their minds and in their hearts. The theme for our final chapel together was What I Learn from the Wilderness, and I was deeply inspired this morning. Assistant Director Courts Bliss led our time together by recounting her early days teaching Maine Trails girls how to pack backpacks, run a Whisper Light stove and stay comfortable on trip. She has always been a natural teacher, though many of us saw it before she did, and adventures in the wilderness with campers helped her harness her gifts and see her potential. She also reminded our campers that they are teaching each other new things every day.
Some of our Allagash girls shared what they have gained from their Wavus days in the wilderness, and I was moved to tears. What they are coming to understand about the development of a team and how a group has the synergy to accomplish what a single person could not is nothing short of remarkable for 14 year old girls. These young women shared that they didn’t get along with each other all that well in Cayuga when they were 11, but tripping together over the years has turned this group of girls that might not find each other in school or other social settings into “Family.” They will all be such valuable members of classes, teams, dorms, workplaces and more someday. Their words today showed me that they understand wilderness tripping is both a metaphor for life and the antidote for much that plagues adolescent girls today.
I must share a few words on the women and men who collaborate (Rowboat Totem) through the year and throughout the summer in the Kieve and Wavus Trip Sheds to make these life changing wilderness opportunities as exciting, safe, and transformational as they are. I want to acknowledge the miles, hours and pounds (of food and mail) that go into seemingly small words like “drop off” and “Resupply” printed on your daughters’ cabin lists. Our Tripping team has my deepest gratitude and respect each day for their efforts to create the magic of Wavus for all of our campers and counselors.
You will have your daughters back in your arms soon. Many stories — and pounds of dirty laundry — await. Thank you for sharing your most precious people with us and for allowing us to help them stretch themselves and discover their inner strength by having adventures of their own in the wilds of Maine and New England.
PS – the photo is of a poem shared in chapel by one of our youngest campers. I hope it makes you smile 🙂