Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Sunrise in the Mountains

This week, I was supposed to be recovering from directing a high school age camp with my youngest brother, but sadly, camp never happened. Weeks of planning, and nailing down counselors over a month in advance (a rare treat) went down the drain as Kevin and I discovered that only four boys signed up for our camp. We had no choice but to cancel at the last minute. I initially thought that maybe the kiddos didn’t like me and decided not to return this year. But no, even though I’m an awkward wallflower that makes lets Kevin take the stage while addressing the group, there’s no way that I scared them away.  Turns out, it was primarily summer school that killed the fun.

While it is a complete bummer to miss out on spending a week in the mountains, the plus side to it all is that we have camp all planned out for next summer!  It might not seem like a lot of work: (just let the kids run around and go canoeing in the afternoon), but there are a lot of hours to fill in a day, and too much downtime can lead to trouble. My brother and I are very low-key and go-with-the-flow kinds of people, but we do like to have some sort of structure. Plus, it’s fun to plan a random activity and think of all the whines and complaints we’ll get from the kids once they hear about it. I think whining is a teenager’s favorite pastime. It reminds me of my own youth, and one of my favorite, grouchy camp memories.

I was around 16 years old. I wasn’t a cool, hip, sixteen-year-old, but rather a plain, ratty haired, grossly undersized, dork. That said, I still encompassed the innate traits of a normal teenager: the love of my Discman, sarcasm, and sleep. So when our camp director informed us that we would be waking up at the butt crack of dawn to watch the sunrise, I was none too thrilled. Most of us campers begged and pleaded for her to make it an optional activity, but she staunchly refused.

Not only were we going to have this sunrise adventure, we would also be made to hike a quarter of a mile to the nearby lake in order to fully enjoy it. I know, wah, wah, wah, a whole quarter mile! But seriously!  When one could be snuggled warmly in a sleeping bag, but is instead forced to hike in high altitude before dawn, it makes that distance so much more daunting. In any case, before 5am the next morning, we begrudgingly rolled out of bed, and gathered to prepare for our hike. Thick with sleep, we mumbled and grumbled our good-mornings, and began quiet chatter amongst ourselves in an attempt to wake up. This is when a caveat was sprung upon us: We were not to speak the entire walk to the lake, nor while at the lake, until the sun had risen.

With one sentence, our director had removed any minute piece of fun that activity could have possessed. I swear it was like the cartoons: steam rising from our heads with the amount of teenage rage boiling within us. But, being the good, respectful kids that we were, we didn’t challenge our oppressor and began our silent trek to the lake. Upon arriving, and taking a seat on the benches circled around the little wooden pier, we pulled our hoodies tighter around our faces and huddled together for warmth as we soundlessly implored the sun to rise.

After what felt like eternity, the golden rays exploded over the treetops, and caused us to cower, and shield our eyes from the intensity that was much too bright to enjoy at that early an hour. When our eyes finally adjusted to the glow, we glanced over at our director. There she was, eyes closed, chin raised high, meeting the sun with a big, Muppet grin splashed across her face. I’ll never forget that image, or the dichotomy displayed on that pier.

Now, as a director myself, I understand the gift she wanted to share with us. While I can’t say that I particularly appreciated the sunrise at that time, I do know that she left me with a lasting memory that I still chuckle about. However, as much as I inwardly plead with my campers to lower their noise level, and as rare as it is to be able to see a sunrise in the mountains, I can tell you candidly, that a silent sunrise hike was not in our plans for our campers this summer.

It burns, it burns! (this is not our lake, but close enough)

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