The mountains are calling
Reflections on summer camp
I grew up going to an all-girls, six-week summer camp nestled in the mountains of Virginia. Year after year, my friends would pester me, questioning why in the world I would want to spend my entire summer away from home without a phone, a computer or — gasp — boys. Every summer, I would go back for reasons I couldn’t fully explain.
This home in the hills was where I learned to love fully and live intentionally. Camp had the unique power to erase all of my anxieties and fears — it was the one place where I was unafraid to be myself and never doubted my self-worth. It was my glimpse of heaven in the mountains.
This summer I returned to camp for my 10th year — my second as a counselor. I’ve been told by some that I should get a “real job” or slave away at some internship. But I learned more about myself this summer than I would have anyplace else.
After a tough school year, returning to camp reminded me of the natural beauty that often gets lost among the piles of papers and books and business. It reminded me of the love found and fostered through my relationships, and what true community looks like. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you never feel lonely at camp. You feel deeply loved by everyone around you, something I consider an immeasurable and incomparable blessing.
After six weeks of bliss, it was hard to say goodbye. I never imagined my classmates could understand the love and joy I experienced this summer. But as I’ve settled into school and reconnected with friends, I realize how ignorant I have been. Each person in our lives is entirely capable of loving the way camp friends love. Each person holds the capacity to be true and honest and intentional in all they do.
All that’s missing is an atmosphere of trust, vulnerability and loyalty – an atmosphere which we are fully capable of cultivating if we wish to do so. As I move into this school year, I hope God gives me the strength to remember all camp has taught me and I hope I find the courage to love those who have no mountains to remember.
Peyton’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.