An essay by Merri-Mac counselor, Sydney Duhe.

I Believe in Hiking Boots

The word camp inspires multiple definitions. Some think summer camp, others assume camping in the woods, and some even jump to camping gear. When I think of camp, I dream of four weeks in the summer making experiences to last a lifetime. Never had I, and never had I dreamed, I would associate the word camp with hiking boots. Camp always meant sleeping in cabins, showering in cold water, and eating in the dining hall, but not once had camp meant hiking boots, at least until this past summer. My definition of camp changed when I received a document informing me hiking boots would be required for my upcoming camp experience. Big, ugly, ankle high boots were now on my shopping list. They were an unwelcomed item expected in my shopping cart; an ugly, constricting, ankle high item that I never wanted but was now necessary to my future success. These Asolo hiking boots would take me on a journey. They would keep my ankles from twisting, my feet from slipping, and most importantly my socks from drenching in the rain. Not only would this summer change my view of the word camp, it would lead me to believe in hiking boots.

The trip was scheduled for the second week of July, and my new boots were more than willing to take the challenge. They had been worn in from walks along the cemented ground of my neighborhood and the rubber of the treadmill in my garage, but their limited experience had not expanded past the city.  Although I felt unsure, these horrendous, bulky boots were ready to walk with me through seven days in North Carolina’s rolling hills and steep mountains. The first few days went well; my clumsy feet found protection within the thick layers of the boots, and my ankles felt secure no matter how many times I stumbled. It was not until the second to last day of the trip that my trusty hiking boots found themselves facing their toughest opponent yet. This challenge called itself precipitation, and it used many battle forms such as slippery roots, and rocks, muddy trails, but worst of all hiding in its artillery, wet socks. The boots that previously had been an annoyance, a grievance, an embarrassing item in my closet were now my savior. The thick soles gripped the ground with supreme stability, the tight laces held my feet secure, and the water resistant layer kept my socks mercifully dry. This muddy foot-wear performed with grace and brought me safely through the journey. It took a drenching rain storm for me to believe in my boots, and now I trust them to keep me from slipping even on the steepest terrain. My unfortunate looking boots sleep in my closet, and wait for the day they can come out to travel with me again.