5 Minute Read
April 24, 2020 // by Adam Trufant
“Why We Need the Wild”
“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains — mountain-dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s work-shops." - John Muir
“Wilderness Makes You Better” - Gabe Salamida’s Bumper Sticker, Chosatonga Staff 2015-2018
“No gem can be polished without friction, nor human perfected without trial.” - Confucius
The great wilderness that borders the ordered lines of cabins and familiar paths of Kahdalea and Chosatonga is full of unknown or forgotten valleys, mysterious crags, caves and gorges, and secret spots in the heights capable of making even hardened souls melt in the experience of wonder. The wild is a dangerous place, and the unprepared and uninitiated are often in need of escape or rescue when an adventure turns south. So why do we encourage ourselves, our campers, and our staff into these wild places? What do our campers stand to gain by wandering away from the warmth of their homes and the comfortable glow of screens to be guided into the silence and uncertainty of the wild? And why do we need the wilderness right now more than ever?
A step back is needed to view these questions in the proper light. As our Chos men remember from Dave’s first Sunday Chapel reflections, the wild and beautiful world we inhabit is indeed a canvas and an expression of the wild and beautiful Artist’s Heart that built it. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature”. With a little help, it isn’t difficult to see that this magnificent canvas set out mysteriously in the cosmos is a means of learning about the great Artist Himself. As we see pieces of His personality and the qualities of His character in the world He created, we learn how to operate in difficult moments with a spirit of peace and confidence in His goodness, even when the world is tough.
The created world can be a tough thing to contend with indeed. It burns, bites, crushes, freezes, hails, poisons, buries and erupts! To contend with the wilderness and its inherent risks yields fruit in our lives; it forces each of us to encounter unchangeable realities, come to an understanding of them, and then act in accord with these truths we’ve encountered. Here’s an example to illustrate this point. To perform an S-turn in a canoe on the Tuckaseegee River, a young Kahdalady must learn to adjust her canoe’s speed to the rough power of the current and use the river’s flow to turn her toward the safety of her desired downstream eddy. She must enter into the struggle with the river, adjust to the reality of its flow, and learn how her strength can cooperate with this unchangeable force to grow and progress.
Throughout the process of learning a river maneuver such as an S-turn, our campers are bound to encounter challenges which reveal to them their own limitations and also their many strengths. The rough reality of the river reflects the reality of their own capabilities back to them and fashions weaknesses into strengths. It stretches them intellectually as they apply the correct formula of speed, stroke, and body lean and discern the situation’s needs; it stretches their character as they must be courageous and prudent in the face of potential swamping and flipping; it stretches them physically as they strain their musculature to maneuver the canoe correctly; and it stretches them psychologically as new neural pathways are blazed in their brains and a zest for adventure and openness to try new and difficult things are cultivated. The little rapid, this evident slice of the wild, becomes an excellent teacher and a window into the wisdom of God. Contending with the wild stretches our campers into stronger, wiser, more courageous versions of themselves because they allow this piece of God’s art to teach and test them under the careful instruction of our counselors.
Experiences like the one I just described are invaluable. Our approach to reverencing and experiencing wild places sets a tone that resonates across the entirety of our campers’ lives. It’s incredibly rewarding to see these fruits, which manifest as strength of character, grow in our Camp family! As any one of our seasoned campers has learned, you cannot control the wilderness, but instead must respect, flow, and cooperate with it to safely descend the bike trail, summit the peak, or conquer a rapid.
Seeds of virtue are sown by our wilderness adventures and cultivated in the freedom and merriment provided by our camp family; these seeds mature into qualities of the heart that make all the difference in difficult times. Virtues like grit and resilience, like courage and cheerfulness in the face of hardship and struggle (singing in the rain, anyone?), and wisdom and caring for our brothers and sisters most immediate to us. Times such as these call for men and women of indomitable spirit, who see in struggle not merely suffering but the possibility of greatness. As Benedict XVI said, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” This is why we need adventures in the wild now more than ever! I believe our Camp family truly does play a large role in growing greatness, and I pray Camp can continue to sew virtue in youthful hearts for many, many years to come.
Camps Kahdalea and Chosatonga
April 6, 2020 // By Anne Trufant
We are certainly thinking of you and praying for you all during this season of great challenge and great opportunity. A poem came to mind this morning and I want to share it with you. It's called Invincible Summer, by Albert Camus.
"My dear, in the midst of strife, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was within me, an invincible calm. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger."
This is a season of great challenge and great opportunity. We've never had anything like what we are experiencing right now. When young David faced the giant, Goliath, he had only a slingshot and 5 stones. Today, think about this. When you face your Goliath, what are YOUR 5 stones? For me, my faith and the way I pursue a relationship with the Lord is the anchoring stone. Another stone is the gift of love and connection with those in my life whom I cherish. ( Even in a time of not physically being together we remain SO connected.) The gift of joy and laughter is another stone of great value. (Is there ever a time when we don't need laughter?! It helps keep our heads in the right place). My fourth stone is staying in a place of peace. (Phil 4:7 says that peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. In difficult times we need to work to stay in that place of peace so we are anchored in faith and not fear). The last stone in my slingshot is unwavering hope. Never, ever quit or give up! As Camus says, "No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger."
That said, let me say that it's very important to be honest with ourselves with what's going on in our head and heart. This time we are in is unprecedented. We've yet to see if any family will remain untouched in some way. There are health concerns, financial concerns, school concerns and on and on. Just because we have faith does not mean we don't have very real feelings and concerns. It's very important to put a name to them. And call them out! Of course we will have them. The important thing is not to let fears and concerns "have" us. Grieve what may need to be grieved. Name what needs to be named. It will help give some sense of control in an otherwise very upside down world. And while you're naming, don't forget to name your 5 stones. There are very real anchors in each of our lives that are the rudders in our ships. It's important, and will grow more so I imagine, to keep your personal anchors in the forefront of your mind. Add to that some things that make you laugh and some things that inspire you. These always help keep our heads and our heart s in the right place.
I heard a great quote this morning. "Every storm runs out of rain." We will, at some point, move through this time. We may be a little worse for wear, but "within us, there's something stronger." Most often we don't know that until we are put in a position to test it. Camp gives us so many opportunities to challenge a child and ourselves to try things we never thought we could do. And of course challenging ourselves in rock climbing, horseback riding, paddling and so on is a lot more fun than pulling up inner strength during a pandemic! But here we are. And whether or not this is a time we can be physically close, I am grateful that we have so many ways to stay keep us connected!
Know that everyone at camp is praying for all of you and sending our love. I'm sure that Albert Camus REALLY meant to say that in the midst of pandemics, in all of US there is an invincible summer!
All My Love,
4 Minute Read
Camps Kahdalea & Chosatonga
2500 Morgan Mill Road
Brevard, North Carolina 28712
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