Yesterday, I went for a walk on the Tomahawk Trail at camp. Our campers know this trail very well—they go on runs, hike out of camp on backpacking adventures, and the brave few take their first solo campout on this trail. I’ve walked it many times after work. It’s my time to be in the woods for some reflection. I try to do it every day.
But sometimes I don’t feel much like “reflecting” and honestly, I feel I’m being silly to even call it that. Besides, it was chilly, gloomy, and foggy yesterday. I didn’t want to get caught in the rain or get lost in the woods in the dark. (Of course, I’ve never gotten lost on this trail, but any excuse was better than having to be wet and cold!) So it wasn’t until around 6:30 last night that I dragged myself off my comfy chair in my reading corner and told myself, You always enjoy your walks. Just go.
And I did. And it hit me. Rarely do I go on these walks unless it’s really beautiful outside. More often than not I give the excuse that it’s too cold, too dreary, too snowy…and soon it’ll probably be too hot, too buggy, too whatever-I-decide is the reason for not getting my blood pumping and spending time in the spectacular woods at camp.
As I walked last night, I realized what I might’ve missed had I opted for my comfy chair. Dusk rolling in was beautiful on the trail, the fog and misty rain made what usually felt familiar about it feel brand new. It felt like an adventure, and I anticipated what was ahead, as I waited till the last minute to head home before darkness engulfed me. I stood and watched light, drizzly rain dance on Lake Doris on my way back.
This is what we do well at Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake. We teach campers the beauty in routine. Not always an easy routine, but a routine full of learning and growing with others. It’s really a wonderful model for how we should live throughout the year.
During the summer, it’s easy to fall into this routine and experience the joy that follows. But as summer ends and I’m still at camp, still getting to see Lake Doris and the Enchanted Barn everyday, I sometimes forget why daily routines are important. I tell myself it’s more important to go-with-the-flow, be spontaneous! Routines are restricting and habitual acts are boring!
But the reality is that with no routine, I choose to sit in my little reading chair, missing the changing seasons and beauty of nature happening right outside my door. And I find it hard to hold onto what camp teaches me, that in a daily routine, I am set free to learn and grow and learn and grow. Embracing the rhythm of times set aside for living actually allows me to live more fully.
What fun and adventure is experienced in a life lived this way! Life will always be full of spontaneous moments, and I’m going to miss them if I don’t set a routine to watch them and make a point to experience them.
Maybe our first day at camp feels unfamiliar, but soon daily life in camp strengthens those routine muscles, if you will, that we naturally possess. Soon it’s natural to wake up to a bugle early, to clean and organize your area, to sit and listen to a chapel, to learn a skill set during the day, to sing songs at every meal, to scream and shout for our friends in competition, to spend time together playing and winding down after a long day, to listen to our friends and respect their ideas and feelings, to fall asleep to cicadas and wind in the trees.
And along the way new lessons are learned, new discoveries are taking place, all with our friends and counselors experiencing life with each other.
Camp offers so much to those who work and play here. It’s easy to see new skills and new relationships being built, but camp also builds a foundation for living for those who enter it. This foundation isn’t limiting and stifling. It is a foundation to jump off of, to build upon, to come back to and to rest on.
Written by: Sadie Roebuck – Intern