Wedding Parties and Winning Combinations

Aug 23, 2023 | Hanna Draddy Pautler

Each summer is so different. Different counselors, different campers, different themes, different games. It’s a good sort of different, a different that makes it more comfortable to be uncomfortable. As someone who has been coming here to Kahdalea since I was eight years old, change can be difficult. Now, being in a position that encourages and welcomes change, I understand its importance in a new way. New perspectives, new ideas, new energy, new comedy, and refreshing culture are all important. All in a place that is filled with beauty and tradition, with old friends and memories, legends and familiar faces spread throughout generations. Camp is made up of old and new! Without the tension of the two it would just be bleh

Camp Kahdalea is where I learned how to be alright with discomfort. Going on a trip and forgetting all your warm gear after a rainy day and wearing socks on your hands? Uncomfortable. Leaving all of your friends from home to come to a camp for five weeks in the summer? Uncomfortable. Letting campers dress you up in the craziest clothes you’ve ever seen, put makeup on your face and give you a crazy name and story to perform in front of the entire camp? Uncomfortable. But the thing about discomfort that I never knew is that at first it is intimidating, but when you come out on the other side of the experience, you become a new person. You entered into that hike as someone who was scared to hike in the mountains for five days, but you come back with new stories, new friends and a new confidence in your own abilities. You come in scared to not make any friends and leave with an entire wedding party for your future wedding. You come in worried that you may look silly or that you’re too quiet or too loud, but then find yourself being crowned the winner of Kooky Kahdalea. 

My journey with discomfort has lead me to know more clearly who God made me to be. I learned that it is ok to sing at the top of your lungs and dance crazy in the rain and to not always have your hair straight and makeup on. I have eleven bridesmaids in my wedding coming up in September, and I met half of them because I was placed in a cabin with a bunch of girls I had never met before. At camp, I learned that I can do really hard things like hike more than 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail, go caving and climb amazing rock faces, and learn how to roll a kayak and paddle down a river. I developed hobbies and formed relationships that I will have for the rest of my life because I learned that challenge and discomfort are beautiful and life changing.

Those are a few examples of how this incredible place can stretch our ideas of creativity, love and adventure. Each year my answer stays the same, one of my favorite memories of the summer was how much I grew and how I stretched outside of my comfort zone.