Certain Kind of Realness

By Green River Preserve

There is a certain kind of realness that can be felt when you close your eyes while listening to the entire camp singing at the Lower Council Fire. It is the unity of each individual’s authenticity; and when we close our eyes we can’t help but hear it – each individual voice singing the same song. We are all here to be ourselves. We are all alike in our differences, and as a camp community, we have the unique opportunity to support and celebrate our individuality, together. As a staff member, this feeling is somewhat familiar to me; however being surrounded by so many campers who have never experienced this before created a refreshing sense of wonder in the air.

Last night, campers heard Chief Seattle’s Letter, a letter that the renowned Native American Chief Seattle sent to the President of the United States in response to the President’s offer to purchase land from the his tribe. This letter is of the utmost importance because it depicts the exact message we are trying to convey here at GRP – that the land sustains us. After the next five days, we are aiming for all campers to leave this magical place with a heightened appreciation for the natural world.

Along with this sacred reading, campers learned a variety of camp songs, followed by an imaginative story by Star, one of GRP’s favorite storytellers and Senior Mentors. We concluded the Lower Council Fire as we will conclude every Evening Program this week: arm-in-arm, facing the West and singing “Sisters, Brothers.”

Although these rituals may seem normal to us (i.e. staff and returning campers) by now, experiencing these with new campers takes us back to our own first experiences at GRP. And this nostalgia reminds us that most campers do not yet realize just how meaningful these rituals will become throughout their week – and hopefully years – here at Green River. It is such an honor to be part of the first GRP community that these campers will ever know.

Today, campers got to experience their first Mentor Hikes, which were a healthy mixture of challenging and informative fun. My group had the privilege of going to visit Phil, Rachel, a baby goat, and other fun farm creatures. We also tried some delicious ground cherries – a species native to these woods – as well as tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, and other delectable goodies. After our brief farm tour, our group hiked up to Uncle’s Falls, which is among the largest (and definitely the most popular) waterfalls on the Preserve. At Uncles, campers Polar Bear-ed and explored the Salamander Cave. Reports of cold (but tolerable) temperatures, a rainbow salamander, and a baby crawfish were abundant.

This afternoon we went to our first group of activities; from Pottery to Climbing, new things are being learned everywhere at GRP. The essence of curiosity and wonder brought forth by the one-weekers is both inescapable and inspiring, and I can barely contain my excitement the next few days with these spirited youngsters!

Ginny (WW1)