Pull into the barn parking lot. Walk into the barn. Take down the feed buckets. Soak the grain and beet pulp. Pull the horses. Muck. Throw hay in Olin Gulch and Fish Creek.
This is what an average Monday morning has looked like for me - rain or snow, sunshine or freezing temperatures - for the past several months at camp. As one of the members of the year-round riding program team, getting to be at the barn each week to be around the horses and work with the other riding program staff has been one of the best parts of the winter. And, even as the current COVID-19 situation has continued to develop and our schedules and workplaces have been upended, this part of my week has stayed the same, and for that I am very grateful.
I’ve found myself thinking about routine a lot lately, and particularly about the ways in which routines can provide a sense of comfort and stability in uncertain times. As people around the country and the world have had to adjust to their new realities of quarantining and social distancing, many have found themselves somewhat unmoored without the ability to stick to their daily or weekly routines. For some this might actually feel somewhat liberating - a break from the ordinary! A chance to get away from the repetition of long commutes in rush hour traffic and the tedium of sitting at an office desk all day! Indeed, there is much to be said for shaking the habitual and getting a chance to switch things up. But there is also, I believe, great value in the kind of structure that routines can provide for us.
At camp during the summer, no two days ever really look the same. Any given day, campers and staff set out for various activities and trips, and none of these will be exactly the same. Part of the amazing thing about being at camp is having the ability to be spontaneous and enjoy experiences that are unique and out of the ordinary. But, at the end of the day, what grounds all these adventures is in large part the routines we return to. At the end of every week each camp hikes to their special spot for Vespers, where the members of the community get together to sing songs, take in the views, share stories, and recharge for the upcoming week. Moments like these, the things that we return to over and over, offer us the stability we need to get back out there for new challenges and adventures.