Guest Post: In Defense of Hiking

hiking young

A young Tiffany Creed enjoying (or pretending to enjoy) the great outdoors

Today’s blog post was written by Tiffany Creed, our Head Female Counselor for Summer 2013. Tiffany is a long-time member of the SFAC family, working her way from camper to Head Counselor. In this witty and lighthearted post, she talks about the evolution of her feelings towards recreation day. 

In Defense of Hiking by Tiffany Creed

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, my siblings and I attended all kinds of summer camps. Soccer camp, science camp, art camp, writing camp, horse camp, broadcast journalism camp, finance camp (seriously)… Etc, etc, etc. My least favorite camps were the ones that were outside. I hated the heat, I hated the mosquitos, I hated the lack of practical fashion choices. I knew deep down that in terms of the city girl-Alaskan chick dichotomy, I was about a 60/40, respectively. I hear your gasps, and yes, I was ashamed. A thoroughbred Alaskan that doesn’t like the outdoors? I should have been exiled.

But I knew better than to admit it. I did the hikes and I did the birdwatching and I didn’t complain (very often). All the while I secretly yearned for an air conditioned room in which to sew a pillow, learn my lines or do science experiments. However, the coveted, dirt-free brand of camp only accounted for about half of the summer.

My least favorite camp was called Camp Habitat. It is and was a truly fabulous program for learning about wildlife through outdoor-based activities and day hiking through the backwoods of Fairbanks, Alaska. We always had to go to the marsh to look at (and be eaten by) bugs, we always had to dig through pellets of fur that owls had regurgitated in search of the bones of rodents, and we always had to eat our lunch in a dusty, bottomless canvas tent.

Naturally, in my early years of SFAC, I didn’t enjoy Sunday rec day very much. Substituting a day of improv, Dance Jam, and mask making for an elevated walk? No, thanks. I always picked the easiest hike, and I had to have my friends on the same hike, or I would just die.

hiking now

Tiffany embracing nature on the Herring Cove trail in Sitka

Somewhere between 6th grade and my last years of camp, though, something changed. I found myself looking forward to the hikes rather than being opposed to them. I started feeling indifferent to whether my friends would be on the same hike as me or not. Was I maturing? Was I coming to terms with my destiny as a true Alaskan girl? Maybe. Or maybe I simply challenged myself a little and made it work for me.

What I realized is that you need not be a devoted fan of the outdoors to enjoy a day hike. You just need something to think about. The perfect hike, for me, is one where I don’t say a word out loud, but in my head I’m going a mile a minute. By adjusting my attitude, I am now able to appreciate the natural world and the peaceful space it provides for me.

Those who have been to SFAC before know that it’s fast paced and there are a lot of new experiences and ideas to absorb in such a tragically short time. Rec day is halfway through camp, so it’s the perfect time to process and rejuvenate for the second week. If the outdoors are not your thing, think of rec day as your own personal mobile meditation so you’ll be emotionally refreshed and ready to be the best artist you can be.

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