One of my favorite quotes comes from Lady Bird Johnson — a former first lady and the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She once said, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” This quote has always given me some comfort and it rings true even more so now than before.
I say this as I have just recently moved to a small city in western Maine for the summer. For the next two or so months, I will be working as a camp nurse at an all-girls sleepaway camp. As a nursing student who has been sick of spending so much time studying indoors over the last two years, I thought this would be the perfect way to spend the summer.
Since I am working at a camp, that is the place I will be calling home for the entirety of the summer. I have only been here for two weeks so far and it has already felt like I will be eating, sleeping and breathing all things camp.
Prior to this, I had not actually had any experience with camp. I went camping when I was young as a Girl Scout — but nothing like a sleepaway camp or even a day camp. Surprisingly, it has been a rather easy transition and one that I have found great peace in.
While I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had nor the memories I made for anything, the past academic year was rather taxing on me. I entered the summer with the urge to work on healing myself — healing my heart, my soul and my body. It seems as though in the short time I have been here in Maine, I began the journey to do so.
The location of the camp I am working at is not in a particularly populous or large city such as Portland. This not only means that the nearest retail store is over 20 minutes away, but also that I am surrounded by an abundant amount of nature at any given time. After arriving, I almost instantaneously felt at peace. For the most part, that feeling has remained and I owe it all to the nature around me.
While my work at camp keeps me in what is known as the Health Care Center, I have been dedicating most of my free time to being outdoors! Whether I am journaling or have a few minutes before dinner, I try to spend as much time as I can outside and in nature.
I have to admit, much of my time has been focused on journaling. I have had a lot of reflection to do on the last few months in regards to the relationships in my life, my academic and professional goals as well as just thoughts about the change I made for the summer coming to Maine. Writing has forced me to work through much of this in a healthy way and one that has allowed any heaviness to be lifted off my chest daily. This reflection has allowed me to be honest with myself — something I constantly struggle with — and to find specific things that I can focus on changing or growing on.
Along with journaling, I’ve been embarking on bike rides and leisurely strolls around the camp as well as attempting to improve my basketball skills — keyword, attempting. One of my favorite things to do outdoors has actually been enjoying the beautiful view of the pond by sitting on the dock or swinging on this cute wooden swing close by.
By doing all of this, I have found myself disconnecting from one version of my life and connecting with another. This has forced me to focus less on things such as my phone and be more present in the life I am physically living. For example, instead of scrolling through social media apps while walking to and from places, I have been simply enjoying the nature around me. This has not only significantly decreased my screen time but has also brought so many benefits to my health.
I am typically a positive person but recently, I have found myself feeling even more upbeat. My emotional and mental health have been doing rather well as I have spent more time out in nature. There has also been a physical component in which spending more time outside has resulted in me moving my body more consistently throughout the day. Overall, this is really different than how I typically am during the school year — a time when I spent most of my days at a desk staring at my laptop, feeling large amounts of stress and anxiety as well as just generally not being as in touch with my inner self.
With that said, I hope you all try and spend some more time in nature this summer wherever you are. In fact, I urge you all to take the time to enjoy the nature around you. We are too often caught up in trying to be the best and being overly ambitious — especially as students at the University.
Whether you’re hoping to do some healing and restoration like me or just want something fun to do, being outdoors is a great way to spend some time during the summer. For those of you spending your summer in Charlottesville or on Grounds, there are so many places to visit. You could do something as simple as a picnic on the Lawn or do something more adventurous such as hiking at Humpback Rock, Ragged Mountain or even the trails at Monticello!
Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.