By Darcie Steeves, Class Teacher
The Things We Learned At Camp Menogyn:
- How to tolerate jumping into very, very cold water
- That mayflies will swarm you but not bite you
- How to bridge and portage a 75-pound canoe, on rocky terrain, and in the mud
- How to fit everything you need for two days for 6 people into 5 Duluth Packs, and how to lift a pack, which is bigger than your friend, onto your friend’s back
- What it feels like to have a small lake in each of your hiking boots for many, many hours
- How to “leave no trace”—for real
- The special taste of iodized lake water
- That the Class of 2017 has a song for every activity and will sing their way through it, often with harmony
- Showers? Who needs them?!
- How to clean a cooking pot with lake water and a pine cone
- How to laugh even when you are very uncomfortable
- That we get by with a little—no A LOT of—help from our friends
We did it! We survived, and maybe even enjoyed, Camp Menogyn (from the Ojibwe, “to grow fully”). I am so impressed with—and proud of—my students. They learned many new skills, and tested most of their physical, emotional, and social limits. There was silly and serious conversation, frustration, joy, fatigue, physical discomfort, laughter, song, and even dance! We slept in tents smooshed up against each other, paddled many miles on pristine lakes, and worked tirelessly together.
As each of the groups returned to camp I heard so many stories. There were stories of having entire islands for a single group. There were stories of wildlife. There were stories of games played to entertain each other. But more importantly, the majority of stories were about the funny moments and laughter the campers shared as they dealt with a variety of challenges. What a great way to end an emotionally challenging time and school year for these young people. They were forced to face each other and themselves.
As we left the camp on Friday, the levity and pride in each student was palpable. Right before the photo above was taken, the class reprised their boot dance as a thank you to our amazing counselors. The counselors whooped and cheered (along with me!) for this remarkable group of young people. It was such a special moment; I could not stop smiling.