“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the midst of Washington, DC.’s concrete jungle and cacophony of noise, very few ever stop to find peace in nature. In fact, other than trees strategically placed in parks and on sidewalks, it seems that nature hardly even exists. The secret to peace is to find the “home away from home” where it is possible to feel connected again, connected to the Earth and to other people who, like you, have stopped their busy lives to breathe freely again. My second home takes the form of Camp Giscowheco, a nature camp in the heart of West Virginia. Though the primary purpose of the camp is to have fun in a natural environment with other nature-oriented campers, it also serves to teach, educating youth that come from as near as a minute down the road to as far away as Berlin on the simple joys that slowing down long enough to appreciate the Earth can provide. Never in my life have I learned more in a shorter amount of time than at camp. Camp taught me how to tell a Camberas crayfish from an Orconectes. Camp taught me to wake up before anyone else, just to hear the robust, cheerful song of the Carolina wren, and to go to sleep long after the rest, waiting for the mournful hoot of the barn owl. Camp taught me the value of leaving river stones unturned so as not to disturb the salamanders and the necessity of the ability to tell jewel weed from milkweed. More than anything, though, it taught me to enjoy life’s easy pleasures while they last. It is essential never to take anything for granted; one always appreciates its value so much more after it’s gone. At the end of my two weeks of serenity, I found myself as always wishing for nothing more than to go back again.
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