By Green River Preserve

After the third bell of the morning rings, the buses have rumbled down the curved gravel road and the quiet of the mountains has been pierced by the giddy sounds of campers shouting Repeat-After-Me songs. Hours of natural discovery—for both campers and staff—begins.

Some campers spend their morning discovering the sensation of total darkness after descending into the cave, perhaps choosing to venture into the cavernous wet room or the smaller, more cramped dry room. Some of them choose to turn off their headlamps to discover a world no light can reach.

Others venture into the waters pouring down from the Uncle’s Creek waterfall, shrieking the words, “Polar bear!” as the shock of the frigid water hits them. Oftentimes they emerge laughing but exhilarated, marveling over the coldness of the water on one of GRP’s most famous hikes.

Campers may also spend their morning at the Green River, clambering over rocks, spotting red efts or wading through its clear waters. They too might emerge from the tree line by the balds to find themselves standing at the foot of a vast expanse of rock, Lower Bald, and discover a new mode of exploration as they find a way to scurry to the top with the help of their mentors and fellow campers. Here, they discover an expansive view of the Blue Ridge Mountains spread out before them.

Across the Preserve, campers find new ways to discover, be it through their morning mentor hikes or their afternoon activities. This place opens up a world of discovery, whether the campers are taking in a beautiful view, a new and strange plant, or, perhaps, something more intrinsic, like a newfound curiosity or the new love of adventure and of nature that GRP so often inspires.

Katherine Poore