When I started thinking about writing this blog I was imagining trying to sum this three-month term up and finding it hard to grasp the words to aptly convey this bittersweet ending.In the second half of my term I have lead three unique camps and designed one camp as my capstone project. The month of July flew by, we had nine camps in four weeks, and before I knew it I was designing my own camp programming with Monika, who holds the same position at Cascade Mountain School.
First, I dove in to a camp centered on recycled art; local and semi-local students learned how to see recyclable materials in a new light. We taught the art of turning egg cartons into flowers, milk cartons into bird homes and soda cans into portraits. One of the reasons I love Cascade Mountain School is the ability we have to act as a conduit for creative minds, a folk school is my favorite way to put it, if there is someone who has a skill or craft that they wish to turn into a camp for children, we are able to use our network and curriculum knowledge to help them achieve their goals. This allows adults and children to have creative outlets and for them experienced instructors to shine with what they do best.
After recycled art, I took two camps on to Mount Adams. One camp was our two-week Science of Stewardship program. This program stands out because it is based on teaching students about sustainable agriculture and wilderness stewardship, as well as learning to backpack and whitewater raft. I noticed more ease and control in my own leadership; since I was not trying to grasp the itinerary, I was far more capable of leading with my fellow instructors. Dealing with high school students can be a balancing act between friendship and the role of an instructor. I saw myself taking an instructor role and this shift is a step in the right direction for the future, because I would like to lead trips for people all ages and that requires confidence of leadership even among teenagers.
My final overnight camp was Girls Rock. This program was planned the same way as the other overnight backpacking trips. It was a pleasure to lead a group of young women on a backpacking trip after having a summer of male participant dominated programs. It was also an important camp for me because it closed out my overnight trips for the season and it was the first overnight camp I lead alone with another female instructor.
After all of the dust settled from July, Monika and I began to plan for our Mid-Valley camp. We developed a program that drew from our experiences over the summer, hiking navigation, team building and storytelling; all of which I see as essential parts to any good summer camp. I was also asked to work at the Trout Lake Fair; a classic fair in such a wonderful town. It is an honor to be welcomed into a tradition.
At the end of the first week of August, I had a meeting about my AmeriCorps term; feedback is always an important part of any kind of work. I was looking forward to hearing from my supervisors about my service. I was so happily surprised to receive the very best feedback when I was invited to start a new term for 11 months with Cascade Mountain School recruiting students and schools and helping with fall, spring and summer programming. I have counted myself lucky to watch the summer move through Trout Lake, Washington, always marveling at the way some wildflowers would died off to have other beauties take their place. I was beginning to wonder about months and seasons of the year, and now I will get to experience them firsthand. I am very excited to accept this term with Cascade Mountain School and see what a year of planning and creating looks like in this program. So after some of the longest and most joyous three-months I have found that it does not have to be bittersweet nor an ending, rather I am beginning a new challenge with an organization that I admire and hope to grow with, surrounded by creative and caring individuals and that makes me ready for Autumn to begin.