|Night Hike from Castle Rock, Big Bear Lake, CA
(40 Summers 40 Lessons Series)
During a recent meeting of the American Camp
Association Upstate New York Community, we were all reminded by our membership
director that, “if you are too comfortable, you are probably doing it wrong.” This was part of his description of the camps that had in fact run this summer and how they were
adhering to the safety protocols and pushing themselves, their campers, and
staff teams through the season.
At the beginning of summer 2020, I wrote on this blog
that I would be sharing 40 summers and 40 lessons. I mentioned what I have
learned about life and leadership in what has been handed down to me as a
manner in which I have shared with hundreds and thousands over the last 40
summers. “Camp is all about beginnings and endings.”
It is a leadership lesson that as I think about this
year, is still relevant and truer than ever before.
Labor Day weekend always represents finality to the
camp season. As I mentioned about Memorial Day weekend, many of my summers spent
at Bluff Lake often ended on Labor Day Monday evening with a hike to Castle
Rock. I spent a few of those with friends and co-workers on top of Castle Rock
overlooking Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern
There was one particular Labor Day that my lifetime
friend, Chris and one of our staff team, Katie (daughter to George, whom I have
written multiple times) spent together. We had hiked out to Castle Rock and were heading back
in the darkness wandering the 1.3 mile long trail back to camp.
At some point in the darkness we had heard loud animal
noises and had dispatched several rocks into the woods and brush to hopefully
scare off anything that may have been watching us. (I’ll share a tale of a
mountain lion encounter at a later date). We were all a bit apprehensive about
those kinds of encounters.
We had stopped cold in our tracks and pitched those
rocks and sticks and when we heard nothing else, we just stood still for a while. Chris
suggested each of us find a rock to carry for the rest of the trail. And so,
we did. Chris took the point and Katie marched behind as a brought up the rear.
Our conversations were always intriguing and in low
toned voices. It often evolved about summer memories and what we would take
away from those lessons. Endings always seemed to bring that out in each of us
and as mentioned, camp was in fact, all about that (at least 50%).
I think about this summer and juxtaposed to that night
and I long for that connection that occurred for us as we strolled along the
trail. I have recently returned from a trip out of state and besides having to
self isolate for 14 days, decided for peace of mind that I would go take a
As I pulled up to the drive thru Covid test, I
immediately had that sense of anxiousness that seems to creep up in daily life
over the past six months.
The LPN was dressed head to toe in protective gear and
I could tell he was smiling underneath it all. He greeted me warmly and
pronounced my name correctly as he told me to keep my window rolled up. He described
the process and that I would need to insert the probe to the back of my nostril
until I felt resistance. And then, hold it there for 15 seconds as he held the
stop watch. Oh, and then do that again for the other nostril.
I must have made a face as he assured me, “you’ll do
great Mr. Ferreira,” as he smiled again under the mask and screen. I followed
the directions and my eyes began to water under the pressure point that I assume
was how close I was to an ocular nerve.
Upon completion of the second nostril, I placed the
item in the tube, snapped of the end of the probe and sealed it all into the
plastic hazard bag to return to the LPN.
As I rolled down the window to hand it all to him, he
stated, “You’re crying, so I know you did it correctly.”
The irony of it all made me laugh and I thanked him for
the levity and comfort that he offered.
Laughing and crying, it is all related. It has all been quite a bit uncomfortable. The distance from fear to funny is quite close when you
|End of Summer's trail, "what was that?" moment.
The last few hundred yards we had quieted our conversation. The only sounds at that point were our steps and our breathing. We were emerging from the tree line and I saw the lights near the camp generator shed across the meadow; I decided we no longer had to fear the sounds in the darkness.
Still bringing up the rear of our hike, I threw away the rock that I had been carrying.
Their fear, and my laughter, that set the memory and the
emotion of the end of that summer. I have to believe that this summer’s end
will be likewise. It is the human experience after all that this year has
brought us so far. The human reaction is what it is. We laugh, we cry, we react
to the circumstances of our lives.
“So if you’re crying (or laughing), I know you did it