Written by Molly Carlson
Garrett is a normal teenager who loves what summer encompasses. However, his favorite part of summer is attending Camp Shiverpool. At this camp he rejoices in playing with his friends amongst the wilderness. However, when he pulls up to camp this summer, he is informed that the camp changed and now Garrett cannot bring anything with him into camp. Hank, Robert, and Sam all guide Garrett on a journey of appreciating all that nature has to offer. But, Garrett is stuck with one question: Why can we take so much from nature, but not give anything back?
Keywords: Take and give back to nature
Finally, after a long school year, I was free. There was sunshine, and pool days, no homework, and a lifetime full of memories amidst the summer air. But the one thing I was looking forward to the most was Camp. I have attended Camp Shiverpool every year since I was 10. Now I am fifteen years old, and am so excited to see all of my friends from the past summers.
Mom called me from downstairs. “Garrett! Finish packing up your things. It’s time to leave.”
Finally the moment I have been waiting for has come. I packed all the essentials I needed to live out in the woods for a week. A tent, sleeping bag, water, toiletries, clothes, and most importantly my beloved phone. With built-in cell-service, this thing was indestructible. I also packed a week’s worth of food containing chips, marshmallows, candy, chocolate, cookies, and popcorn -just what every teenage boy loves.
Our car-ride to Camp Shiverpool looked a lot different than I remembered from years past. When we pulled up to the site, I expected to see the cafeteria, infirmary, the waterpark, canoes and boats, and the tire swing my friends and I built last summer. However, when I arrived I saw nothing. Nothing but trees and one circular area with a tiny bonfire set up.
“You must be Garrett,” an old man said, whose hair was as grey as the sky on a gloomy day and who smelled worse than Mom’s cooking. “We are so pleased to meet you! Welcome to Camp Haverkamp,” he said with a grin.
“I must be in the wrong place. I am supposed to be attending Camp Shiverpool,” I said confused.
“Well you are in luck. We took over Camp Shiverpool and are proud to be the best new summer camp in the country,” said the old man. “My name is Hank and I will be your guidance along your journey here.
Journey? Summer camp is supposed to be a carefree experience not a learning lesson. I started to pull out my packed bag because I knew my mom would not let me leave after she already put the deposit down.
“Woah son, I don’t believe you have heard of our new rules. You are not allowed to bring anything with you to camp except for the clothes on your back,” Hank said.
I looked over to mom and she accepted Hank’s response and forced me to put all my beloved items back into the car. I did manage to sneak my phone into my pocket when no one was looking. I said goodbye to Mom and I was left in the woods, all alone, and with nothing to help me survive.
A few hours later Hank introduced me to a 15 year old named Robert and a 13 year old girl named Sam. I was so thankful to see actual people that didn’t smell like rotten garbage.
“Boy, am I so excited to see you guys. How are you guys eating? Where do you guys go to the bathroom? Where is the lake and canoes and tire swing? I saw a path leading out of this camp a mile back. I smuggled a phone in here and I can get you guys out!” After blubbering, I looked at Robert and Sam, both encompassing a blank face.
“We like it here,” Robert exclaimed. “It is fun to try to survive in the wilderness, almost like the forest provided everything we need for survival,” Sam chimed in.
I walked with the two as they showed me around camp. Everything was made from nature and they explained that every food they eat can be found within a mile radius. I shortly began to realize the importance of nature, but I just had one question. My mom has always taught me to share and not take. So how come every camper is taking what the wilderness is giving us, but not giving anything back in return?
I decided to hold the question to myself until a more appropriate time.
Later that night we all sat around the circular campfire. I felt comfortable with Hank, Robert, and Sam now, so I finally decided to ask the question I have been wondering since I got here.
“How do you all even survive?”
“Everything the land gives us is free range. Humans long ago survived solely off what Mother Nature gave us and this camp allows us to go back in time and live like our ancestors,” Hank said spiritually.
“But then why do you not give anything back to the forest after you take all of it?” I asked.
“You see Garrett, plants are always adapting to humans’ selfish control. We admire our wilderness and are thankful for all of her gifts. But we do pay Mother Nature back for these gifts,” Robert remarked.
“Impossible,” I said under my breath.
“We give back recognition, gratitude, and reciprocity. You are right Garrett, humans are selfish and take from the environment. But the people who hurt and pollute our environment are the ones Mother Nature is concerned with,” Sam mentioned.
We continued this conversation long until after dark and throughout my next week at Camp Haverkamp. I found myself becoming one with nature and giving my thanks for all the tremendous gifts she gave us. Only then did I realize the honorable harvest my friends and I participated in that summer.