I woke up in time to see one last sunrise over Lester Flats, the home of some of our staff and the location of most of staff orientation.
The land glows lavender and gold and I am surrounded by desert life: cacti, a beautiful Joshua tree, and the sound of a rooster greeting the day. I finish reading my staff binder, all new information for me, entering camp this year as junior staffer.
Soon I head into the kitchen to help Rosa cook one last breakfast in Maya and Damian’s home. She creates an incredible abundance of food, and after eating; well fed we pile into cars and head to the Joshua Tree retreat center, where the rest of camp will take place.
As soon as we arrive I find myself in a whirlwind of unloading produce, hanging up signs, picking up a food order with Maya, and joyful little meetings with the rest of staff. By the time campers are beginning to arrive I am elbow deep in chopping lettuce for dinner.
Around 6:30 I emerge from the kitchen for the first time to hiding in the welcome circle almost all of the campers have arrived and Xander leads us in some games,
Then the campers and advisors separate into their first advisee meetings and it is time to serve dinner.
Later we have a beautiful welcoming ceremony where everyone has a chance to give voice to what they want to create this week. It’s the first time we all sing together and it feels like camp has really begun.
As a camper the time after the welcome ceremony period usually meant staying up late and getting to know people, but this year I go back to tidy the kitchen with the lovely cooks and then fall into bed, my first day as a junior staffer a joyful, exhausting success. I’m ready to see how this crazy, colorful, beautiful community manifests in the coming days.