As many of you know, after the powerful derecho we lost electric power here at camp for seven days. Though we had generators for refrigeration and communications, we all made minor adjustments (life is pretty simple here at camp anyway) and made the best of things.
Soon we were used to short showers and using the Old Johns (OJs) and more reliance on our trusty lantern light. In fact, for the most part, things went on as close to normal as you can get for how we run camp. After all, most things are out doors and don’t need power to continue on.
But we decided to ask the campers how it was for them. We asked them all to write down their impressions of going largely electricity-free for a week. I was so impressed with their answers and it really touched my heart to see the insight and perspective many of them offered. In truth, reading their answers was so heart warming that I cried my way through it. Their answers showed me that today’s kids are resilient and able-minded, ready to meet life where they find it.
From the mouths of babes….
I wish I could type all their answers up for you but that would be a very, very long story. Instead I’ll relate that a great many focused on the fact that the fun never stopped, that having electricity or not having electricity had nothing to do with how fun things can be!
Many also tuned in to the fact that it is not things and luxuries (like power) that are important, but it is people and relationships. If I’m not mistaken I think this is the message of every major religion, too, so it seems that ‘Ghany Girls were on the fast track to enlightenment this summer!
Because we all pulled together during this time to stretch the power further, we taught the girls to take two minute showers. Even the strictest environmentalist out there would take pride in this approach and you just may have some budding conservationists on your hands because many of the girls expressed a desire to not take things for granted and to realize how much we rely on energy and how we can be better stewards of our resources.
But I can’t resist posting a few of the girls responses as representatives of the whole. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. They all start with “I learned”:
…that you can still live without power but you have to work harder because machines aren’t doing things for you. –Anonymous
…we don’t need flushing toilets and I don’t need cellphones, computers, and ipods to keep myself content. All I need are my friends and family. –Hope H.
…that power is an accessory, not a necessity. –Mary L.
…to face my fears and to make the best of things. –Skler S.
…you really don’t need power to have fun here. The things that make this place fun are not new Johns or the cold water at meals. It’s my friends and the counselors that make this place great. –Maggie B.
…you can make do without things you always took for granted. These sacrifices aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. –Anna B.
…that in tough times good people can pull together to make the best of an odd situation. –Anonymous
…that I depend too much on power. –Anonymous
…what it was like when Cooper Dawson owned camp. Also just because we had to use to Old Johns it didn’t mean that it would ruin camp. It was kind of fun learning how the girls lived 91 years ago. –Leah
…that you don’t need power to do canoeing, dance, ropes, and rifle a a lot of other stuff and all those things are really fun. So why we all need power at camp or for three weeks is still unknown! –Anonymous
…how much I waste on a daily basis and how to cut down on my water and electricity intake. –Julia D.
…you never know the worth of water until the well runs dry. I learned how lucky we are to have power, flushing toilets, and ice in our water. I also learned that even without these things you can live every day normally and have fun. This made me realize how much water and electricity we waste. Though it was sort of disgusting I’m glad I had this “opportunity” because it made me appreciate power and water more and taught me to use it better. –Anonymous
I am thankful that all my friends and family are safe. I learned that people are more important than things. –Gracey G.
…that we don’t need everything that we think we need, such as hot water, air conditioning, long showers, and electricity. These are just distractions that trick us into thinking that we need luxuries to make us happy. But the power outage taught me that self sufficiency takes distractions away from our lives and helps us keep in touch with our true needs. This enables us to go through life in a humble and grateful manner. –Gwyneth B.
I learned that a positive attitude goes a long way. –Allie
…that nothing really changed. When the power finally came back on I was screaming and jumping with joy. But when I sat back down I realized that nothing really changed. Maybe we had some more lighting, but nothing really happened. No matter where you are, as long as you are surrounded by good friends you can have a good time. –Eire H.
…that even under bad circumstances or ones that seem bad, you can still be the same and do the same things, just in different ways. –Anonymous
…that without power we grew closer as the Alleghany Family. –Michaela K.
…that (having) no power doesn’t make a big difference because we are a very outdoorsy camp. –Georgia R.
…that Carnival turned out great without power!–Kencie
…that camp isn’t really all about power. You don’t really need it. I didn’t really feel the difference. Think about back when there wasn’t even power. They had to use candles and cook over a fire. You still can go on normally without power. –Alison F.
It’s inspiring to see how adaptable the campers were and are about life circumstances and even “emergencies.” It says a lot about how the younger generation can work with critical (but very different) things such as a energy and social environments to meet the world where it is. It has been our privilege to learn from them as they experienced the great East Coast power outage of 2012!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls