For the week before graduation, members of the Christian fellowship here on campus went on a restful spiritual retreat to a nice little place called Camp Windermere. Located three hours away in Roach, Missouri and surrounded by the Ozarks, Camp Windermere is the perfect wind-down setting after a long school year.
The first thing I noticed was that the camp was big. Housing a lake, hiking trails, numerous dormitory buildings, chapels and more, it immediately gave off that nostalgic “summer camp” vibe. I’m a sucker for anything all-natural (literally), and this campsite definitely respected the elements of nature it housed.
I spent a majority of my time sitting on the docks atop the lake. There was a day in which many of us decided to kayak/canoe/paddle-boat (and not a single one of us left those docks dry that day), but most of the time, people used the docks to gaze out at the waters and appreciate their beauty. Several times, we’d point out turtles and fish and frogs that wandered out of the lake. A couple of times, snakes even slithered past us. I felt like Camp Windermere provided my first intimate encounter with nature this year.
At night, people would sit on the hills or the docks and stargaze. There was very little light pollution, and it was nice to be able to see nearly every constellation in the sky. Outside, on WashU nights — if you’re lucky — you can spot that rare twinkle in the sky (which often ends up being a lone airplane or helicopter), so these few nights were quite refreshing.
WashU is beautiful, and the school year is a blast, but you never know how much you can appreciate nature until you put in the time to do so. I’m grateful that Missouri is a state filled with so many opportunities to experience not only the brimming culture of cities like St. Louis, but also the quiet peace that comes from resting in nature. I’m even more grateful, perhaps, that WashU provides me with the people and the capabilities for me to even enjoy these places. What would I do without you, WashU? 🙂
Pictures taken by my good friend and fellow WashU student, Catherine Cai!