The first full day of camp started out warm and misty. We gathered as a community for flag raising, a reflective and insightful morning activity that typically takes place in central camp around the flag poles, but due to impending weather was moved to the Bahn. The Voyageur campers, who will be biking around Nova Scotia for the next month, led this morning’s reflection. They prompted themselves and the group to think what they would say to their younger selves. The answers varied from heartfelt reminders that they shouldn’t be afraid of the older campers, to enjoy every moment in this magical place, as well as comical remarks that having a bathroom buddy is both a wonderful way to make a new friend and conquer the dark walk to the BIFF. The mist cleared while the community dispersed to ponder these thoughts.
I myself became quite attached to the thought, yet never came up with a concise answer because I was caught up with the pressure of saying something witty and important. And even beyond that I’m not sure what age I would consider my younger self. I looked around at the groupings of seasoned four-trails campers to the youngest Discoverers who are beginning a journey in this new place. I have been in the shoes of both groups and decided that if I were to write a letter to my camper self on a day like this some 10 years ago, I would say, take a deep breath and dive in. And although I did not share that sentiment with everyone it might have well been shouted through the Canaan Valley because that is exactly what happened. Despite the rain that came in waves through the day, the energy was bustling as groups dove into Dan Hole Pond and traipsed all around packing for trips and getting oriented to Merrowvista’s lifestyle and expectations. There was boundless energy as friends learned about each other and fearlessly approached all that camp has to offer, even in the rain.
The afternoon brought a normal schedule for the in-camp program filled with EZ time and interest groups, while the four-trails campers began packing and preparing their mobile communities, interspliced with exhilarating card games in the ELO to wait out the rain.
Finally, the day culminated with opening council! Every village from youngest to oldest has the opportunity to introduce themselves and share a song with the community. By this time, the sheer volume of our voices and laughter had warded off the rain enough for a massive fire to light the center of the council circle. Thus around it we stood, group by group, sharing new songs and classics, as well as an abundance of villages creating their own verses to give some songs a unique twist. As we walked out of council singing “On My Honor,” the line “my honor is to try and my duty is to love” ringing in my head, I amended what I would tell my younger self to not only take a deep breath and dive in, but dive in giving it my all, and most importantly lead with love; hoping that perhaps this community would once again head my inner thoughts.
A nostalgic and cheesy past camper and present youth development professional: Megan Lemaire