A Toast to Loch Leven

Sunset at Loch Leven in the San Bernardino National Forest

Sunset at Loch Leven in the San Bernardino National Forest

Have you ever cried in a bathroom stall where your knees hit the door with your morning coffee in hand that’s filled with more tears than coffee creamer because you’re tired and haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a month? 

Have you ever sat in an airport with no music playing through the headphones in your ears because the only sound you want to hear is silence? 

Have you ever ate arugula with no salad dressing for dinner because camp food is just bread? 

Have you ever stood in the shower where the water pressure is basically a drippy faucet and wondered what the difference between grace and forgiveness is? 

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you were probably a Peace Intern— or at the very least, a camp counselor. 

Y’all, sometimes camp is hard. For the most part it’s all communing with nature, campfires, and gooey marshmallows. But it’s also hearing stories that fill your head so full that when you finally come back to reality, you realize you’ve ran 4 miles— when you only meant to run 2. It’s also a powerful vespers that leaves you tossing and turning in your bunk. It’s the hard climb upward to your mattress at the end of a long, hot day of no air conditioning. 

It’s easy to become burnt out after a rough week, but then there’s laughing and dancing. Those two things combined with mountains painted in sunset orange have the tendency to renew your spirit. After four weeks of camp, my body is letting me know how tired it is. But nothing is more sore than my heart. I’ve heard so many stories about loss, heartbreak, discrimination, and downright hatred that my morning runs are filled with plenty of material to chew on. After it’s all been said and done, I can’t help but be grateful that we provide at least one week of healing, love, and grace for these kids. My mind can’t even fathom what would happen if we weren’t here doing this work. 

As I approach the halfway point of my summer, I am reminded of all the beauties and intricacies of camp. I am reminded that high-school kids are hilarious. Inclusive communities are all around, if you create the space for them to be. Living in the south, I am in a constant state of divisiveness. Being at camp helps me realize this isn’t true everywhere. I have become more aware of my own ability in creating these spaces. This harkens my spirit to continue this throughout the rest of my coming weeks of camps, but also within my own divisive reality back home. 

A tradition at Loch Leven is to have a toast before every meal. So, here’s a toast to Loch Leven: 

To laughing until I cry. To friendship bracelets. To starbursts. To patio talks. To vulnerability. To small showers and big spiders. To lizards that hide in the bushes. To meeting “that guy”. To chakras. To that scary swinging bridge. To no cell service. To Target. To the movie theater skit in the talent show. To great counselors. To great directors. To strawberries. To tent-talks. To sleeping under the stars. To shabbat-shalom. Thank you.