Despite what can only be described as unprecedented times, I still think many would agree that nothing lifts the mood like summer. Emerald green leaves burst from their tree roots, the light swirl of clouds casually dust past a shining sun, and the chirps of birdsong bring good vibes and happy energy. A recent activity that I’ve taken up is exploring a local nature reserve by our house in New Jersey. The minute I step onto the trail, it feels like every stretch of path takes on this Narnia-esque quality, a feeling of total disappearance from the world. There are waterfalls and bridges and rocks and footpaths – you cannot help but feel simply infinitesimal. Stepping outside is a daily reminder that the world is large and vast, and we are simply footprints within a larger landscape. So naturally, my thoughts turn to camp.
Well, one of the very first hiking adventures that a young girl may often experience comes from her time at Tripp Lake. Even nowadays, my family members and friends who attended Tripp will inevitably connect any outdoor experience, like my nature excursion, with the Promised Land. Sure, we might also mention the ice cream treat that we received afterwards with slightly more reverence, but those outdoor sojourns made a powerful impact. It provided moments where you had to trust your footing (literally and figuratively) amongst the slippery rocks, take a deep breath as you stepped outside your comfort zone on an unfamiliar route, and feel confident in embracing these obstacles with your camp friends, and perhaps a RRODL counselor, by your side. There’s a song we sing in OTW with a line that reads, ‘What if I stumble, what if I fall?’ Well, camp wants to provide the opportunity to ask that question on a regular basis – to reach outside of yourself and take healthy risks, to push yourself both in moments of success and in conflict, and to own a learning experience that lasts a lifetime…there’s your physical comparison.
Now, on to the metaphorical. We often refer to Tripp Lake as ‘The Bubble.’ Yes, I’m willing to chat with the NBA commissioner and let him know that we trademarked it first! Tripp Lake Camp is an oasis of green and blue that knocks any nature reserve out of the water aesthetically speaking. It’s also vast, extensive, and closed off from the surrounding world in the best way possible. Yet the core difference is that your daughter’s imprint matters here. Campers return each summer even when they may have already swam the stroke a year earlier, shot that basket in a team game before, or sat in the Adirondack chairs too many times to count. It’s because of the way it feels to have your friend put their arms around you in a hug, the beaming energy of hearing your name screeched in the dining hall, or simply the knowledge that you get to be a part of a rich tapestry that makes our girls feel truly seen. It’s this feeling that has affected me the hardest ever since camp had to close for the summer, knowing that our insular and sweet escape is standing there without its heartbeat, its people. However, I encourage all of you, as I do for myself, to take solace in the times we’ve planned to be together this summer. It’s not the same, but it truly does help.