Last Thursday marked my favorite experience at my internship this summer: a camping trip in Rouge Park on the west side of Detroit. Thanks to Detroit Outdoors, KGD’s Summer Youth Apprentices were able to go on a one night camping trip this summer and create so many memories that will surely last a lifetime.
We arrived at Scout Hollow (the only campground in the city of Detroit) around midday on Thursday and were greeted by the friendly Detroit Outdoors staff, all of the gear we’d need for the night, and — unfortunately — swarms upon swarms of misquotes. The bugs certainly came as a shock at first, but it didn’t damper our spirits too much. We immediately layered up, lathered ourselves in peppermint and other bug repellents, and got to work setting up camp.
For many of the youth, this was their first camping experience. And as one of three staff members on this trip, I knew it was critical to maintain a positive attitude and a high level of energy throughout the trip — especially with buggy and rainy conditions. I spent the majority of my time running around with the youth, playing frisbee, throwing a football, and going on hikes. When we were moving, the bugs didn’t seem as bad, so that’s what we decided to do!
The happiest moment of the trip was on one of these hikes. The sun finally came out, the mosquitoes calmed down, and two of the youth and I climbed up a nearby hill to rejoice at the astonishingly beautiful evening it had become. As we raced up the hill and stood on top to overlook the park, I experienced a blissful moment… one where I remembered exactly why this work is important and why it’s something I want to do in my life. There is nothing that compares to the joy and freedom that I feel when I’m outside, experiencing and connecting with nature alongside people that I care most about. Our wide eyes and goofy grins as we laughed on top of the hill, in complete awe of everything around us is a moment I’ll never forget.