On a near-perfect summer day, Explorers Camp held their first staff meeting after returning from the Session II three-day trips. The sun shone outside and a breeze blew through the Art Shed; the weather felt more like late May than late July. The sound of Explorers campers outside talking and throwing a Frisbee carried through the screened-in windows. The inert and well-used camping equipment from the three-day trips surrounded the staff on two sides, a fitting backdrop as the staff meets to unpack what they'd just accomplished.
At a passing glance, the camp - both counselors and campers - might have seemed worn out, but it's contentment, not exhaustion. They were quietly processing the wonder and camaraderie they'd shared on the river and the trail. Half of the camp hiked Duncan Knob, and the other half canoed the south fork of the Shenandoah River. At the staff meeting, the reunited staff shared stories of the stirring views, of campers surprising themselves by overcoming self-imposed limitations, and of a camp brought closer together by shared struggle and experience.
Pictures of the three-day hikes and more on Explorers II to come.
One night in the woods, one group had a scatological discussion about what historical figure they'd want to have with them as a companion on a wooded bathroom break, weighing the merits of founding fathers and celebrities. They also had more erudite conversation: Campers and counselors named Bible passages that they found hard to believe, and the discussion that followed - in that perverse, Episcopal way - served to strengthen their faith. It's this kind of introspection following a day of climbing a mountain or paddling for miles that makes the time at Explorers feel so full.
Back in the Art Shed, the counselors recalibrate and catch their proverbial breath. Camp can seem sometimes like a place in constant motion, with the volume always turned up to eleven. But the loud exuberance of camp needs the moments of reflection like these to take stock and make sense of the joy experienced. Soon the camping gear will be washed and tidied away, camp will head to worship, to play King Ball, and then it will be full speed until the end of camp, but, for a few minutes, the Explorers staff enjoys a peaceful moment together on a beautiful day and glow with the accomplishment of all they've seen and done in God's creation.
By Ed Keithly
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.