Departure Day (Oregon Session 2 ~ Nathen Lester)


photo by Dandy Denial

I love a Not Back to School Camp departure day. This one is yet another beautiful, warm day at Camp Latgawa, morning sun coming through the Doug firs, maples, and madrones. The campers are sad to leave their new community, and do so with some crying and lots of hugging. We know we brought them into the fold and left them wanting more. We get to see the parents who created these wonderful teens happy to have their kids back with a new dose of inspiration and connection. We on staff are operating in a haze of tired satisfaction from a week of unsustainable but joyous teaching, learning, leading, making new friends, and not nearly enough sleep.

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The campers gone, we meet through the late morning and early afternoon to debrief, brainstorm, and close with each other. It’s such a treat. These people are my dearest friends and I love them even more after an intense week of working together and relying on each other. We end with an “appreciation circle,” where for four minutes I get to hear things like, “Nathen, I really appreciate the way you nurture camp. You’ve got such a good brain and such a good heart. You give so much and it’s amazing. It’s so wonderful and beneficial to be around.” (Thanks, Margie!) And I get to return the sentiment.

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Then we pack up and leave Camp Latgawa, and I can look forward to good conversations with Zoe and Autumn on the long drive back to Eugene; a late-evening walk with Grace, Margie, Matt, and Rob to our favorite dessert place; a day seeing old friends from my university days, and an Amtrak train back to my wife and two-month-old daughter. And to two more sessions of camp in the next two months, in Vermont and Joshua Tree. It’s a good life.