Tuesday, August 1, 2017

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 9

Where did July go? August is here and I'm very happy it is. It's a clean-slate, fresh month. Honestly, when I left this morning and stood outside, I smiled. It also means we're inching closer and closer to fall, my favorite time of year. Have you ever gone for a walk late a night? Last night around 11pm, I took a walk through Shorewood, the neighborhood I live in. I love that I can just walk right out the door of my apartment and take stroll through the suburbs in the evening. It's quiet, calm and that cool night air feels so soothing while I take slow deep breaths, passing under the streetlights. I purposely left my phone sitting on my kitchen counter, where it then remained until I woke up this morning. Don't stay attached to your phone, 24/7 it's just unhealthy. Turn it off, or hide it every once in a while. We just spend so much of our lives relying on that tiny lit phone screen, take a pause for awhile. Before I fell asleep last night, I just sat in silence with a mug of tea, at my table in front of my flat's bay windows reading about Rocky Mountain National Park. Mmhmm to that. Yes, it's not the focus of today's gratitude prompt, but I have to give a quick shout-out thank you to my best friends. Yesterday on my way home from work and this morning while slaving-away in rush hour traffic to the office, I kept the radio off in my car and made/answered a few calls to/from some of the most important people in my life. Even at like 7am, I can have some of the highest quality, most honest and meaningful conversations with the people who love me and appreciate me for who I am. I'm just so grateful for moments like these. On to the prompt for day 9 of the '30 Days of Gratitude' writing challenge.

Day 9: What Place Are You Grateful For? 

There's a place called Matawa. It was a YMCA summer camp located north of Milwaukee in the sprawling Kettle Moraine State Forest. For fourteen years of my life, I spent a metric ton of time there both as a camper, counselor and then administrative staff up until the camp shut its doors for good in October 2014. Summer camp is hugely beneficial and helpful for one's one personal growth. When I was ten years old, my parents dropped me off at Matawa against my will. I did not want to be there at all and wanted to go home right away. Look how that changed. What I credit this incredible place doing for me are these three things: getting me outside and causing me to fall in love with nature, introducing me to some of the most inspiring and best of friends I've ever had and transforming me into who I am today. Let's start with the last praise. I would not be a confident, caring, honest, adventurous and humble person had it not been for the memories and times I had at Camp Matawa. I know that for a sure fact. Camp forces you to break-out of our comfort zone, shed your skin, open up and encompass yourself in whole new surrounding with new challenges, new people and new opportunities. I felt this way every time I pulled into N885 Youth Camp Road. I boast about the true power and magic, that Matawa has cast on me to strive to be a better person, day after day. The people I met at Matawa are some of the most important people I still hold close in my life today. Camp friends are a different kind of best friends. You're living with each other, helping each other through the ups, downs, stressors and moments of reward. You're teaching each other new things, going on adventures together and working as a team. Teamwork of course, makes the dream work. We all grew as leaders together, learning more about each other, supporting and opening up to each other about some of the most personal things, issues or struggles in our own lives. I've had some of the most outstanding life talks with my camp friends. You also create this firm, secure level of trust with one another. My camp friends helped me discover some of my true talents, things I should be proud of and bluntly called me out on things I need to change or do drastically different if I want to be the best I can be. I thank all of you camp folks for doing that, looking after me. Ask anyone who went to summer camp to describe their camp friends and when they start explaining that type of bond that's created, their face just lights up with joy. The last praise and reason I'm grateful for Camp Matawa is because I really do believe that it introduced me and sparked my love for the outdoors. At camp, we were always outside. Playing capture the flag, canoeing in the pond or attempting to make our way up to Mauthe Lake along the river, teaching kids wilderness survival way back in the woods, climbing the Alpine Tower under a bluebird sky. No joke, probably 95% of our days and nights were filled with time outside. I remember singing and hilarious skits campfires, closing ceremonies under the stars, pool parties ending with "Every Day" by the Dave Matthews Band, and watching the nightly sunsets just rage across the sky. Thanks Camp Matawa, for making me who I am today.

I'd give anything to be able to work at Camp Matawa again and have it re-opened.


On the iPod...