Waverly, a current Mt. Airy staff member, has experienced Voyageur as both a staff member and a long-time Club member. Waverly has had many transformative camp experiences over the years, and has reflected on how Voyageur provides a space for her to explore nature and gain valuable perspective:
Camp Voyageur has posed as two things for Club members. One, an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Two, new experiences made accessible by Voyageur, the Club, and the amazing team involved.
Work. School. The News. Smog. Pollution. Cars. Buses. Trains. Sirens. Horns. Yelling. Crying. The city swallows you whole and expects you to breathe life back into it. Clean air, a field to run in, and a multitude of activities to ease your mind – that was Camp Voyageur. The stark difference between home and camp is one is supposed to keep you safe the other is to set you free. Camp lifted the worst of your worries off your shoulders, allowing for you to be open to new experiences.
Whether it’s fishing, canoeing, archery, team building, painting, or learning more about the ecosystem Voyageur allowed for us as children to hold the weight of responsibility and truly trusted us to handle it. Of course, staff members were nearby, but exploration was at our disposable. This was our time. Bringing together kids from different neighborhoods and allowing for their commonality to be the experience unfolding before them.
One very special memory I hold in my heart from camp is when myself, my older sister, and two older girls went out onto the ice for ice fishing. This was the first experience any of us had being on a frozen lake. We took each other’s hands and slowly made way to the middle. It was terrifying to trust the lake and to trust the staff to ensure our safety, but we trusted each other. Now, granted, we didn’t stay on that lake for very long, but we grew closer as Club members and as friends.
In my recent years during the pandemic, I have had the opportunity to go back and experience camp and admire the beauty of the land and water. The sights were reminiscent of my childhood offering an escape from the city, the people, and now the virus. Camp Voyageur once again was a haven. Not only for myself, but this time for my family as we took an excursion to breathe in the fresh air and lake. I have strengthened my bonds with the help of Camp Voyageur, connecting with nature and with my family all at once.
Voyageur opened my eyes to seeing beyond myself and even my community. Experiencing the land and animals and knowing that spaces and places like this are vanishing at rapid rates. This put things into perspective that not only should we help amplify voices fighting for justice and peace. We should also fight for those without a voice. We need to listen to the land and all living beings inhabiting it. During my undergrad, I studied heavily about the intersectionality of identity and our experiences interacting with one another. I took a lot of my experiences from camp to help understand more of my studies and why we are fighting so hard for the environment. As I approach law school, I hold in my heart the advocacy for the preservation of Camp Voyageur and similar experiences. I hope with our continued efforts to push for Club kids to attend camp will help foster future environmental scientists, activists, and inspire our youth to maintain our earth.