Welcome Home

By Green River Preserve

Already we find ourselves in the flow of Session 2 here at the Green River Preserve, heading out on Mentor Hikes in the mornings and off to Activities in the afternoons. As many of you know from Opening Day, the heat of summer is settling in. I, being a Florida girl, like to think it is not quite as hot as home here, but somehow the sticky sweetness of mid-June manages to increase the fun and wonder that are staples of this place. Any heat only makes the lake more lovely, the chilly Uncle’s Falls more inviting, and the shade trees campers’ close friends.

I, along with the rest of the Mentors, hike on the Preserve with your children each morning, and I feel so fortunate to experience these things with them. Campers love going out into the woods and recognizing the plants that surround them after being away; the distance of a school year oddly makes the trees more familiar. We go out in search of Sassafras and Sweet Birch, stories and insight, and every day is like a meeting of new friends and a reunion of old, both human and plant alike.

A couple of weeks ago while the GRP staff was still knee-deep in training, we were asked to share what the Preserve means to us. Surrounded by so many people eager to talk about their love of and connect to this community and this land, I withheld my answer. But here, where my voice is the only one occupying this moment in internet spacetime, I will tell you: Green River to me is Return. I have visited lots of places, held many jobs, and called a variety of houses “home,” but rarely have I felt the need to revisit them. I usually leave a place and try to move forward; returning almost always feels like regression.

At GRP, it would almost be unnatural to lack a deep desire to return year upon year. I, like many other campers and staff, felt when I left last year that I would come back, that I would seek again these people, these trails, this supportive community, and this opportunity for continued growth. I know this is what has brought (or will, next summer, bring) your children back. They feel it, too. This is a place in which we truly can be our best selves. To all of your children, both new campers and old: welcome home.

Holly, Trailing Cedars Mentor