Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eagle's Nest Camp-A Reflection

I have not been writing here at cog blog in a while, but here is one place that has kept me from the computer. George IV and I went to Eagle's Nest Camp for an amazing eight days in August. We canoed. We ran. We sang. We played. We "how, how, howed." This last cryptic quote is part of an ENC tradition surrounding Indian Village and spirituality. In my cynicism of days gone by, I marked it as rude or condescending to Native Americans. Now I have grown up and opened my eyes. Helen, Paige and all the rest of us never intended any harm, only love, admiration, and humble remembrance for those that came before us on the land in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. Cherokees and others lived here for years and many of us feel a connectedness to ancient ways as we wander around the Nest doing our thing with a few less of the creature comforts from home such as light all the time, or air conditioning, or constant access to cars and smart phones. We are not completely unplugged at ENC, far from it, but we make a nod to simplicity that goes a long way in the frenetic pace of life for many of us elsewhere.

On the final night of Session IV we celebrated a very rainy Indian Village. Now when the trees at camp are filled with water they hover like the thickest of canopies. You just do not get as wet in a light or medium rain as you would think. The trees hold so much of the water. I would call what we experienced 45 minutes of a light drizzle moving to a medium rain. Now, we were wet, but not that wet. Not as wet as a downpour over 3-5 minutes. Not as wet as an un-covered light rain for even 15 minutes. And ironically, we were still protected even though we weren't fully covered by a canopy of trees.

Indian Village is a naturally open-air stage. Somehow with surrounding old growth pines and old growth rhododendron and old growth other that I don't know as well by name, but some readers who have been to Indian Village will probably be saying under their breath, somehow there is an open space of pine needles that perfectly fits a semi-circle of about 100-140 in an audience and 15-20 players coming out of the woods and seated and standing center stage. Their are music makers and great chiefs, medicine women, and tribal chiefs. They all play a part in the drama we call Indian Village where we reflect on our time together at camp.

I thought to myself as I grew slightly uncomfortable in 45 minutes of light--medium rain and as I saw souls 100 pounds lighter than me grow even more uncomfortable, Eagle's Nest, as is true of many important communities, is not for everyone. Not everyone will find value being outdoors in the rain. Sure, this evening was debatable about whether or not we should have gone inside. We hoped for what happens more so than not, a light rain, turning to no rain and a beautiful hazy sunset on a mid-August evening in Southern Appalachia. But we took the risk and got something else and the night was what it was.

My son has been crying himself to sleep most of the last two weeks. That's how much he misses his eight days at Eagle's Nest. How is it that I am not overly concerned? Like him, I've returned to life outside the Nest after a second summer there as a camper. It was 1987 and Allison and I had spent seven weeks there as campers in Session II and III. Life in central Florida was fine, better than most 12 years olds lives' if I had to venture, but it wasn't a hill of beans compared to the time spent off 43 Hart Road.

I never was the same. I never really have been. It's alright to cry. Try to find something everyday at home that is good and different from Eagle's Nest, because though different, life at ENC and life at home can and should speak to one another. Hopefully, you will find your way back to the Nest, but if you don't, it was still time well spent.
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