To this day, my first time canoeing Frank Bell’s Rapid is vivid in my memory: My tandem partner and I nervously approached the rapid’s horizon line. I could hear the crashing of the water and feel my heart beating. I was obsessed with the river as a camper, and always impatient for my next whitewater adventure; in that moment, though, I was scared and trying my best just to keep my cool. As we peeled out and pointed our bow downstream, I looked up for one last glance at the trip leader, Luke. He sat calmly in his kayak, stable behind a small rock. His arm was extended and pointing clearly where we should go. I let my eyes follow his direction, we locked in on our target, and we charged ahead for a successful run.
I often think back to that image of Luke pointing towards our destination on the river. A mantra of whitewater paddling is to always “point positive” — point to what you want people to focus on and never towards hazards. This comes from the recognition that we often move towards what we are focused on, for better or for worse. Luke embodied that principle for me in a concrete image. And I think back on it often because I have found it to be just as applicable off the river as it is on — in the midst of the “rapids” we often find ourselves in, we have to take the time to look where we want to go and to lock our eyes on positive things.
One way to point positive in our lives is simple: gratitude. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus meaning pleasing or thankful. That is as simple as it sounds, just giving thanks for the gifts we have in our lives — and the gift of life itself!
This summer was challenging for me (and for several in our camp community) on a personal level. I was one of a few persons involved in a terrible crash in mid-June and I have slowly been working toward recovery ever since. I share this, though, only to say what gratitude I have felt in my heart every day since I first woke up in the hospital. When we open our eyes up in wonder to the world around us and to our own existence, thankfulness wells up in us and that can be life changing (seriously! Google some of the statistics coming out about it!). The thing is, we often take our lives and our world for granted — and we take gratitude for granted too. Truthfully, thankfulness is something we need to practice. It is worth stopping our days for a moment and making a habit of recognizing positive things around us, to “point positive”. As G.K. Chesterton once quipped, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
At camp, we have had so much to be grateful for this year. We had an incredible summer, full of fun and challenge, new friendships, and the summer was capped by an amazing camp reunion featuring friendships spanning 45 years at Kahdalea and Chosatonga. What a blast that was! It was beautiful to have space to connect and to reconnect with so many camp friends and share and hear so many old stories. It was an event for me that punctuated the summer with joy.
We continue to be grateful for the deep blessing of the CKC community, and we thank you for the specific part you play! We look forward to seeing many of you soon when we visit camp families this fall.
Have fun out there,