Having just finished the second week of camp and being now in a state of recovery from the weekend, I would confidently say that this week was even more eventful than the first! Not only are we getting into a better groove with the flow and timing of the camp days, but we also went on two very enjoyable excursions with the children.
The first trip was to a smaller town on the East side of Lake Como called Bellano. The city is famous for the beautiful waterfalls and haunting caverns contained in “L’Orrido di Bellano” which we were able to visit and were all captivated by. We then saw and ate lunch at their local Oratorio, who’s multi-leveled campus entrenched in the hill and beautiful views of the surrounding mountain range seemed to put ours to shame. We then capped off the day with a demanding but satisfying hike to the top of one of the larger hills in the city, upon which stood a charming little church and terraces with magnificent views of the lake and adjacent mountaintops.
While Wednesday’s trip evoked a sense of wonder from rustic Italian mountain communities and prehistoric rock formations, Friday’s excursion conjured up nothing other than the unbridled joy of playing all day in the sun. For this outing, we took the camp to a water park of sorts. However, contrary to what I envisioned, the park was not full of various water slides and lazy rivers, but rather giant inflatable obstacles that float on an artificial river a few miles from Milan. It immediately reminded me of the ridiculous, but entertaining show, “Wipeout” and I was not surprised to see that the course spared no one from suffering the same flailing tumbles into the water as its contestants, myself included.
Between all these embarrassing spills, being made to wear life vests, and being pushed into the water by kids half my age, again I felt the same childlike enthusiasm I discussed before. One of the other camp counselors taught me how to do backflips off one of the higher obstacles and into the water, and the resulting astonishment of doing something I did not know I was capable of was a sensation I have not felt in quite a while.
Honestly, the entirety of this program makes one feel like a kid again. I live with my parents who take me everywhere and wait up for me to get home when I am out at night. I have a younger brother who loves to annoy me and shares a room with me. Every day, I go to a summer camp and play around with kids that are at least ten years younger than me, but who have grown up speaking the local language while I have only the comprehension of perhaps a 5-year-old. Suffice to say that looking like an idiot in front of those younger than you is a humbling feeling, yet is still one that is helping us grow and become better speakers and leaders.
This whole feeling of regression is especially uncanny given that I have just graduated from college and am now societally expected to become a “real adult.” Instead, I seem to be taking one final look back into nostalgia. I cannot begin to surmise how this might affect my life’s trajectory once I am back in the States; I can only continue to live in the moment and savor every opportunity for personal growth. I wanted to do this program not just to learn more about the culture and language, but to also discover more about myself so that I can begin to realize an idea of how I want to live the rest of my life. Many of these external questions still remain, yet I feel by having a better sense of my internal composition and desires, much of them will answer themselves.