Imagine your ideal vacation. Where are you — On a beach, a jungle, or by the pool in five star hotel. What are you doing – sunbathing, burying your feet in the sand, or getting ready to go for a dip? Whatever it is, my –- now ideal—vacation was nothing like that.
Being part of a nonprofit organization looking to hold their annual workshop in a remote location, you know not to expect too much. And so arriving at Princeton Blairstown Center in New Jersey, as expected, didn’t give me a jaw dropping reaction. However being surrounded by trees, nothing but neat rows of cabins far into the horizon, and a frozen lake that got bigger as heaps of snow fell mercilessly – it was starting to be colder than I imagined. After slowly unloading our luggage from the bus to avoid falling, we were ushered into the Cafeteria where a fire was already going, its kindles loudly licking the wood. Built completely from wood the space reminded me of the mud houses in my home country Sierra Leone; earthy and welcoming. Aside from the gigantic and brightly decorated canoe hanging on the wall, a constant reminder of the very inviting but frozen lake, I haven’t felt so at peace in a long time. Being in the middle of nowhere, we couldn’t use our phones. Terrible but it gave me and everyone else a chance take to in where we were, appreciate it, and the falling snow outside.
At night we slept in the cabins. With rock hard bunks bed packed closely together and smoke escaping from the chimney, us students couldn’t have been closer that a pack of students trying to warm up in below freezing weather.
It was definitely not your ideal type of vacation. Although there was a lake, we could neither swim nor row in it. We were always alert for fear of bears — lodging in a remote area close to the woods in New Jersey, that was called for. And sore, itchy throats were rampant throughout the group like the flu. But it was the best trip I have ever taken.
Snuggling into my friend next to the fire set the mood for storytime that lasted through the night. Rocking a sore throat got everyone drinking herbal tea instead of the usual sugary poison we chug down. Being stuck inside because of the cold jugged the creativity in us. We created and engaged in interractive mind and character building activities such as model social scale — a game that examine what its like to belong to different sect of society. Also because of the heaps of snow outside, we played the game of every kids dream on a snowy day: snow fighting, but on a grander level.
Going in, it wasn’t the kind of trip I was looking forward to but after throwing feathery light snow at my friends and making up scary stories all night, about bears, I would go back in a heartbeat.
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