By: Jeff Hoeben

Nothing like _
With a surgeons precision, Jeff slices through the Rogue River!

In this month of thanksgiving, there is cause for much gratitude. Today, in particular, I want to speak about an experience many of you (or your children) can relate with. Over Labor Day weekend, I was given the opportunity to be a camper. I packed my bags and flew West to Medford, OR.

I arrived in a new place full of new faces not knowing what to expect. Feelings of nervousness, excitement, and joy melded together as I began a week-long adventure. Even as a 37 year old man, camp is a gift. My camp was comprised of eleven other young adult cancer survivors. Much like the campers that arrive at Camp Gray, we all brought with us a unique story. Amid all of our stories was a common goal, to be – in the words of First Descents – “out living it!”

The Rogue River was home for the week. For some, the skill of whitewater kayaking was new. Camp is a great place to learn new skills or hone those which we already have. It is at camp where the supportive environment that fosters true growth is so easy to achieve.

To be lulled to sleep each night by the constant flow of rushing water, and to awake with sun shining down on those same waves the following morning, brought me a great sense of peace and joy. That is what time in nature – time at camp – can do for a person. It is at camp that peace is found and lessons are learned.

Creation, specifically the river in this case, has much to teach. On the river, as in life, there are many obstacles. When traveling through frothy whitewater, the goal as one approaches obstacles is to keep eyes focused on the goal rather than watching the obstacle in fear. There is a tendency in life to worry about the pitfalls of life, the large rocks or logs in our way, but the river tells us instead to look where we want to go. This is just one of many lessons I took from the river.

I treasure my time on the river. I treasure my time at camp. I treasure the time to meet new friends, and the time to challenge myself and to grow. We all need camp in some way. We all need time to make experiences that we can be thankful for.

Thanks for your great support of Camp Gray!

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