Closing Campfire Reflections 2021

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It’s almost completely dark now and headlamps light up one-by-one along the trails home after closing campfire. Flickers of lightning shoot across the sky and low rumbles of thunder follow. I’m comforted by the sound of wind blowing the tall grass on my walk and the distant sounds of campers and counselors talking, laughing, yelling as they start to get ready for bed across their ridges. It feels like a deep exhale as a Summer at Sanborn comes to a close. As the photographer at Big Spring, I’ve had the unique perspective of being a witness to the magic of this place. Because I’m not associated with one specific unit, I’ve been a fly on the wall to conversations of ownership and struggle, encouragement and overcoming.

As a newcomer to this environment, it was initially jarring to be surrounded by young men with a whole-hearted willingness to be vulnerable with each other. It’s something that is intentionally fostered here and I felt that immediately from the staff and then residually, the campers. I called my dad and brothers and shared with them how much I wished they had a place like this to feel the sense of acceptance and openness that I saw in the people here. It made me want to be that safe place for them. In a world that encourages men to suppress their emotions, heavily self-rely, and devalue women, I realized the importance of a place like Big Spring because of how it can counter these expectations. Everyone here seemed to bond at a pace quicker than most which I give credit to the tone set by leadership, but also the setting. The closeness to nature slows things down. With so few distractions and a shared appreciation for what the Earth offers us, there is instant connection. Folks don’t swat at bugs here, they look and let crawl. They pick up trash that they didn’t drop.

As I edit some of the last photos captured of life here at camp, I notice that multiple groups of kids have watched the same sunset from different peaks across the 6,000 acres of property, and then rejoined at the Lodge to eat a meal together after the trip. The synchronicity of their shared experiences is a sort of bond that can’t compare to any other. I know I’ll never forget the friendships I’ve built here, the newfound confidence I’ve seen in myself and others as we’re challenged both physically and mentally in the wilderness. It’s hard to fully describe in words, but the one thing I keep coming back to is a deep sense of gratitude for this place, the impact it’s making on the humans that step foot here and how that impact will ripple out through the lives they will live outside of Florissant, Colorado.

-Grace Turner, Big Spring Photographer, 2021-

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Grace Turner
About Grace Turner

Hi my name is Grace! Some kiddos try to call me Gracie and I reluctantly let them :) I’m from North Carolina currently located in Wilmington, NC. I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Photojournalism. I went to Appalachian State for two years before transferring and fell in love with the mountains during my time there. For the past year I’ve been a Kindergarten TA and have found so much fulfillment in working with kids! This will be my first experience at Sanborn… I’m hype! As far as fun facts… honestly the first thing I thought about was meeting Kevin from The Office. We talked about some of his favorite scenes in the show and it made my whole life. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel to Iceland a few summers ago and have been talking about it since! Surreal! Some other things I love: yoga/meditation, gardening, any & all music, introvert (granny) things like reading and hot tea, hiking, my dog Ollie! I’m beyond excited to take some photos, make new friends and explore the outdoors during my time at camp this year!