Our Junior Leaders get to spend five weeks of their final summer as campers hiking and climbing across the Northwestern United States and Canada. Last week, our JL girls dropped us a note to tell us how their trip is going, and it seems like they are having a pretty wonderful time. Here is what they had to say:
Even after only two weeks on trip, it’s clear that JL is an experience unlike any other. We’ve trekked through miles of mud and mosquitos, tripped across freezing rivers, huddled beneath trees in the pouring rain, and enjoyed every second of it.
Recently, we completed a 4-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. Between hiking through breathtaking mountains and staying up late laughing in our tents, there was little room to worry about anything. On trip, we can slow down and enjoy the things in life that make us smile. We eat, sleep, poop, laugh, and sing together, and the result is the closest-knit group of girls you’ll ever meet.
We’ve been together for so long that we can have conversations for hours where every sentence starts with, “Remember that time when…?” We wouldn’t dress up in crazy red, white, and blue outfits on the 4th of July and jump into the middle of the Jackson Hole parade with anyone else.
JL has allowed us to break through obstacles in a way we never thought possible. Throughout our 3 days of climbing, the words “I can’t” weren’t heard even once. Instead, we pushed past fears and felt the accomplishment of tackling a wall and reaching the top. The same is true when we hike up any tough hill, and once we’re at the top, nothing seems impossible anymore.
JL is singing in the vans, driving each other crazy, sleeping in a tent every night, laughing until our stomachs ache, not showering for 10 days at a time and being totally ok with it! JL is a two-month break from Instagram, annoying group messages, and all the drama of high school. It is a chance to grow up with the most amazing and supportive group of people, but also a rare opportunity to be crazy, ridiculous, and immature in all the best ways. As we spend our last summer together, there is no doubt in our minds that JL is the adventure of a lifetime.
The JL Girls of 2015
Today, we say goodbye to our wonderful first session campers. We can’t believe how quickly these first four weeks flew by, and we can’t put into words how much we are going to miss them. While we are so sad to see our first session campers go, we are so happy to have gotten the chance to spend time with them this summer, the chance to grow, learn, and laugh with them.
As we’ve wrapped up the session, these past few days have been a whirlwind of fun, from a midnight pizza dance party to fantastic drama and gymnastics shows to the Paul Bunyan all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae extravaganza—awarded to one cabin in each village that received the best scores for cabin cleanup each morning—to our final Fancy Dinner, where we dress up in our fanciest (i.e. silliest) attire to celebrate the end of another incredible first session.
To the campers leaving us today, we hope you think of Thunderbird throughout the rest of your summer and your school year because we will certainly be thinking of you. We hope you smile when you remember the incredible memories you’ve made here and how many more are waiting to be made when you return next summer. We cannot wait to see you here again. As the buses pulled away with all of you, camp grew a little bit quieter. We hope you know that as you read your plane letters and say your last goodbyes at the airport, we are here missing your singing and laughter filling the air.
As one of our most beloved camp songs reminds us, the end of camp is no end at all, it’s just the end of a beginning. Here at Thunderbird, this end signals the beginning of a brand new session. To our second session campers getting ready to head to camp tomorrow morning, we are so excited to see you! We hope you are ready to have the greatest summer of your lives. Your amazing counselors cannot wait to meet you, and our eight-week campers are eagerly awaiting the sounds of your buses driving down the road so they can welcome you to Thunderbird.
See you all soon!!!