By Green River Preserve
“Welcome home” is a phrase we say often, thinking little of what it entails, of the complex and often deeply personal connections and emotions that inform one’s definition of home. At GRP, however, it is one of the only words adequate to describe what this place becomes for so many campers and families.
Session 3 has a uniquely high number of returning campers, some embarking on their third year here, and others coming to base camp for the final time, with seven previous summers under their belts. Over the first few days, a number of reunions happen, campers who have not seen each other in a year reuniting in the same activity or finding one another during Free Time. Many campers share a cabin with their cabin mates from last year, and Opening Day, for many, was filled with hugs, with feverish conversations, and with “Remember When” moments.
For these campers, GRP is undeniably a home. The trail to Uncles’ Falls is familiar. The sight of Ort Man and Scrappy—who will make their debut tonight—seems comforting. One camper, after the morning bell today, says to me, “I love the sound of the bell here. I love the morning here. I love the breakfast here.” It is this camper’s eighth year on base camp, and her sentiments are, throughout the day, echoed by many others who have found a home at GRP.
Yet, despite the numerous familiar faces populating the Preserve, GRP is lucky to have several new faces (and new friends!) coming home for the first time. The first few days can be a whirlwind for these new campers as they learn tradition after tradition, yet from the very moment they step onto the Preserve, the GRP family becomes a little larger, a little more open. For returners, GRP is a place of familiarity, of established routines and dearly held traditions, but GRP’s new campers are here for the first time, and they are seeing our home with new and fresh eyes. While we on the Preserve find so much joy in seeing familiar and dearly loved faces on base camp, there is a wonderful magic in watching these new faces discover this place, make new friends, and find a new home that will always welcome them back.