Being a camp counselor is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and even in the midst of exhaustion, I stand behind that statement. Often I get asked if I enjoy what I do, and I can honestly say yes. Having the opportunity to share something I am passionate about, makes me even more passionate about it. But there is a totally different reward in instructing, and that is the moment my campers accomplish something they didn’t think they could do.
Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to take a decent sized group on a day hike that I was not entirely familiar with. It was going to be a chance for me to scout a trail for future hikes. The trail turned out to be slightly more challenging then my co-instructor and I had anticipated, making it a relatively difficult ~6-mile hike. The girls slipped on rocks, they sunk their tennis shoes into several inches of mud, they braved thorny bushes that lined the trail.
I’ve been on hikes that are challenging and every step I take I just want to stop, turn around, and go back to a more comfortable place; hikes that I truly feel in my heart that I will not be able to finish. As we continued down into the valley, and I cheerfully pointed up at the gigantic mountain towering above us, I feared that this might be that hike for some of these girls.
Instead, they sang camp songs and helped each other through the puddles. They played “Marco, Polo” with a passing group until they screamed in glea. They laughed, talked in weird accents, and listened diligently as I pointed out things along the trail.
5 and a half hours into a hike that was supposed to take us 4 hours at most, we summited Tennent Mountain, and their faces told me the hike was definitely worth it. Quietly we walked along the ridge, trudging towards Black Balsam – an equally impressive peak. Our trip was coming to an end, but at the moment they were embracing the beauty around them.
This was the last trip for some of these girls, it will not be the last time I take that trip. On the van ride back we reflected as a group, and they impressed me with their answers. As they slept, I silently reflected on how important it was to end that trip on the peak. The girls in my group reminded me how important perseverance is, their collective attitudes at the end was inspiring.
Backpacking can be challenging both physically and mentally, but even when your socks are so wet you can ring them out, you must always find the good and end with a bang.