During Morning Watch yesterday, mountain biking head, Jake Lambrecht, shared an excerpt from Albert Palmer’s, The Mountain Trail and Its Message. The excerpt summarized the importance of savoring all that our time outdoors at camp has to offer. The author described how some hikers are always prioritizing speed and rushing through the trails rather than enjoying them. Instead, the author explained how his mentor John Muir advised people to “saunter in the mountains”:
“Do you know the origin of that word, ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages, people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
Now, whether the derivation of saunter Muir gave me is scientific or fanciful, is there not in it another parable? There are people who “hike” through life. They measure life in terms of money and amusement; they rush along the trail of life feverishly seeking to make a dollar or gratify an appetite. How much better to “saunter” along this trail of life, to measure it in terms of beauty and love and friendship! How much finer to take time to know and understand the men and women along the way, to stop a while and let the beauty of the sunset possess the soul, to listen to what the trees are saying and the songs of the birds, and to gather the fragrant little flowers that bloom all along the trail of life for those who have eyes to see!”
This “secret of the saunterer” that Albert Palmer reveals is something that we can all take to heart this summer. Our time here at camp is already nearly halfway over, but we can still savor every moment that remains. Yesterday our advanced horseback riders returned from an overnight on property, spending two days sauntering, trotting, and cantering all throughout the miles of trails around camp.
The trip was open to Rangers and Warriors in horseback, the two highest levels for riders that have worked their way up the progressions and shown great prowess and skill in their horsemanship. Five boys were in attendance, Charlie, Julian, Walter, JP, and Ford. They were each in charge of the care of their own horse: grooming, tacking, and ensuring they had enough food and water during the trip. To start off the first day, they saddled up and headed along the trail to the top of the old apple orchard. The trail zig zags along old orchard terraces, making its way to the summit of camp’s “top-of-the-world view.” The mountain view looks out over the Green River valley on one side, and gazes out at one of camp’s ridges on the other.
Once the horseback riders had summited the orchard and crested the top of what we call “Coyote Mountain,” the trail opened out into a field. It was perfect for a quick race and some light hearted competition. The boys lined up on one end, and on counselor Mary’s count, they were off, racing up the field to the other end. There are few places where you can feel as free and weightless as you do on the back of a cantering horse across a grassy field. It’s hard to not smile in such a situation. Though you are going somewhere quickly, cantering a horse in a field has the same feel as sauntering to a degree: relishing the feeling of going fast, but not going anywhere in particular. The boys (and counselors) enjoyed the opportunity to do nothing but ride, savoring the day from the back of a horse.
They made dinner and camped at Copper Cave, the shelter at the base of Falling Creek Falls. Even after spending all day riding, as they prepared to dismount, Ford asked, “Can I just stay in the saddle forever? I don’t want to leave!” They stretched and played in the creek below the Falls, later falling asleep to the sound of the waterfall from the comfort of their outdoor shelter. Before coming back to camp the next day, they rode around the Green River Flats, letting the horses splash and cool off in the creek, cantering around the lower field, and even playing chess on horseback with our giant chess pieces.
Viewing camp from the back of a horse gives one a different perspective, allowing you to enjoy all the beautiful scenery that camp’s mountain has to offer. Other than sleeping in the waterfall shelter that evening, the riders had no real destination during the day and were free to “saunter about” on horseback, admiring the views, enjoying the trails, and racing through the fields. As we move into the end of our second week at camp, we’ll be looking for more ways to saunter through life, attempting to slow down the feeling of time so we can savor every moment left this summer.
More Highlights From This Friday
- Breakfast: Everyone’s favorite blueberry muffins, plus oatmeal, fruit salad, granola, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs.
- Lunch: Black bean soup, pulled pork, pasta salad, a full salad bar, with beef and vegetable soup on the bar, and Oreo pudding “dirt pie” for dessert.
- Dinner: A Southern comfort meal of biscuits with chicken and dumplings, plus the always-popular churros for dessert.
- William Z. achieved Warrior in disc golf
- Andy P. earned Ranger in woodworking
- Jackson S. and Rodrigo E. both attained Warrior in rock climbing
- Evening Program: Free Choice Friday! Boys could decide where they wanted to spend the evening, whether that was at the swim docks, on the field, courts, or gym playing games, or under the Dining Hall with ping pong, foosball, carpet ball, and warrior ball.