When I was starting to move into academic leadership roles, Dale Smith (who was our Head of School at the time), among many other important influences he had on my growth, encouraged me to always look for ways to recharge, replenish, and rejuvenate. After a very challenging, but rewarding year last year, we decided as a family that we needed to more purposefully, deliberately, and meaningfully pursue these three R’s.
We always talked about camping, but never actually went until this past summer. It has been life-changing, better yet, life-enriching. Over the past few months, we have explored many of the great parks in north Georgia. The beauty, isolation, detachment, and challenge of these adventures that I experience with my family have been invaluable.
Waking up in the morning in the woods with my family and our dog, Pickles (yes, that is really his name), awakens my spirit and renews my faith every time. Hiking through the trails, finding a fishing spot to cast (we haven’t caught anything yet, but the process of fishing together has made that matter very little), building a fire (we are getting really good at this challenge), and cooking vegetables that we harvested from our own garden, and eggs from our own chickens (yep, have them, too- Peck and Verdi) represent the calming routines of our days in the woods.
But what I think has captured me and refreshed my soul the most has been the simple times sitting by the water and watching it ripple by. I never noticed how relaxing the water can be until last spring on the 7th grade field trip to Wahsega. I found myself drawn to the waterfall there because it was simultaneously relaxing, but also reflection-inspiring.
In the busy-ness of work, taking care of two small children, a house, dog, and two chickens, it can be very easy to make the excuse that going camping is more work than relaxation. It is a compelling argument that certainly does cross my mind at those moments when I have to remind (300 times in under an hour) the kids to keep the tent shut, not wander to the lake themselves, or take their shoes off in the tent. The set up and break down are also laborious. But the moments I describe above, all shared with my family, make taking the time to get away and unplug in the woods always worth the investment.
The enrichment that these experiences contribute to my family life invariably allow me to be a better educator as I return to school refreshed, rejuvenated, and replenished. Thanks Dale.