Written by Blue Star leadership team member Matt “Fish” Eisenman
Emerson wrote that “in the woods is perpetual youth.” For generations, Blue Star campers have emerged from the pines and mountain laurel with sweat dampened T-shirts and dirt under the finger nails to look out from the top of Mt. Pinnacle. No matter how many times I make the trek, I am always filled with the same sense of awe. There is no better feeling than to gaze out over the rolling hills and pastures of the Blue Ridge mountains, filled with accomplishment, and realize, just for a moment, that the world is bigger than you thought or remembered. That the world is more beautiful.
In 2019, we have so few opportunities for real time in the wilderness that my annual hikes up Mt. Pinnacle have a therapeutic effect on me. I breath deeper. I settle into the world around me and can “be” in the moment. In fact, the way I feel is supported by the science – In her book, The Nature Fix, Florence Williams talks deeply and with research about the benefits of time in nature on physical health, happiness, and creativity. One study even correlated the feeling of awe (impossible NOT to feel on Pinnacle) with an increased capacity for generosity towards others. As our kids spend more time in class and in front of screens, the time at Blue Star, and on Pinnacle, has the power to improve health in the short term and build a life-long love of the natural world.
For better or worse, I also look at the world through the eyes of an English teacher – and Pinnacle is the perfect metaphor for the camp summer. It takes some effort just to get to the trail head. On the trail, you know it is hard – you grab roots, sweat, and work together. While on the trail, you don’t quite realize how far in you are or how much you have to go. Suddenly, the trees thin, and you finish up a few stone stairs into the campsite. You turn around and realize what you have accomplished – and most importantly – as a group. Similarly, the camp summer goes the same way: A little work to get to camp. Day to day, you know it is a challenge but when you are in it, you can’t quite anticipate what the top will feel like. And then, as if suddenly, you are sitting around the keylog fire, looking with awe and wonder at a camp summer well spent.
The Nature Fix by Florence Williams (2017)
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Luov (2005)