Fall has just begun! The mornings are filled with yellow buses and traffic jams. As I wake up and start my morning routine I can sense there is something different. It is not until I turn on to the mountain to drive up to SOAR that I can place my finger on it. The morning air is cooler. The dew has started to sit heavy in the valleys until the afternoon sun chases it back until night. A strange silence sits on the mountain as I continue to drive. The dogs that usually greet my car on the side of the road, anxious for a small game of cat and mouse, are still sleeping in their homes, barely raising their heads to the sound of the car. I feel a heavy, uncomfortable emptiness that I don’t understand.
I pull up to SOAR to be greeted by… no one. The base is empty except for Indy the cat sitting by the door waiting to get his morning can of tuna. The campers that so eagerly yell good morning to me and surround me with their stories from the previous nights are no longer there. Their smiles are absent, except for the memories in my head. The very thing that makes SOAR is gone.
I sit in my office completing paperwork, wrapping up this summer and preparing for our next. In the three summers that I worked part-time at SOAR, I always left with the campers. Together, we were off on our own new adventures. However this year I stayed. I never fully understood what the magic was until today. It truly is magic. At SOAR we try and help campers feel like they belong, but in reality they are the ones that make us feel like we belong. They put purpose to our jobs and make us strive to be better. They are the ones that show us to live lighter, laugh more, and to forgive often. We try so hard to give them a sense of success, preparing them for their next school year. Yet, they give so much to us. As fall begins to slowly set on the mountains, I look toward future summers – the times when the mountain is full of life and the laughter echoes in the valleys, when the dog chases and the birds chirp, but most of all I look forward to seeing the magic of our campers, for when they are here we can all once again share in the magic.
Thank you to all the SOAR campers of 2013 – without you there is no SOAR!