The bridge is the first sign that we are almost back. It is one of those bridges that somehow seems older than the land surrounding it. Sometimes I wonder what came first, Tifie Scout Camp or the bridge. My guess would be the bridge.
The bridge is the welcome mat of Tifie and stands at the threshold of the Camp. It is the last thing to say goodbye to us as we leave the Camp and the first thing to greet us on Sunday night when we make the long trek back to Tifie.
We park, fire ready, and head to the CFE building next to the pool. It has been barely 30 hours since we met as a staff, but the room is bursting with the sounds of greetings and the occasional awkwardly loud laugh. Just like Tifie is our home, we are a family. We chat until Jacob, our program director, makes the Scout sign and then we hush into whispered conversations. Again, we are admonished to be silent and then we slide into the regular meeting agenda.
We talk about the upcoming week and who is going to be where. We pass out papers with troop friend assignments and discuss any special announcements. After discussing any new expectations, we conclude with a reminder that this is “week one.” It is always “week one” because every week brings a new group of Scouts.
We finish the meeting and there is momentary mayhem as some people rush to find other staffers, others slide out the door and head to their cabins, and the rest of us make the trek to the kitchen for a belated dinner. Tonight I head to the kitchen and help scrounge the fridge and pantry for leftovers from the previous week. As we take turns using the microwave, our conversations stay riveted on the events of the weekend. It is amazing how much (and how little) we end up doing in the 30 hours away from Camp.
I eventually leave the kitchen and find myself on the back patio of the lodge. This is the only time when the Camp seems mostly silent. The sun is just barely setting over the mountains and the sky is shifting into night. It is my favorite time of day and there is no place that I would rather be. My friend calls it the blue hour, the window between sunset and the stars when the sky is navy and everything morphs into shadows.
I sit for awhile, alone.
I am learning that it would take much more than a couple months to truly understand Tifie. It may be my home for the summer, but it has many personalities. I see it alive with Scouts during the week and then resting on the weekends.
Right now it seems unguarded and almost eager for night to be over so that it can welcome its Scouts. I have come to love Scouting, but I have a feeling that somehow this mountain loves the Scouts more than I do. I don’t know how any of this is possible, but I do know that the things we love have a capacity to become more than just “things.”
So, the mountain and I sit together, simultaneously savoring the silence and waiting patiently for Sunday to end.