After my second year of volunteering as a counselor for cross country camp, all I can say to college runners is: GO. You will have a fabulous time, break up the monotony that sometimes comes with running over 50 miles a week, and focus your training on the upcoming season, inspired by the new friends you have made. Here are, in no particular order, the reasons that I love White Pass and will tell anyone who will listen how fun it was.
- Breathtaking views around every corner. Morning runs have us running around Leech Lake, a picturesque (albeit mosquito-infested) lake surrounded by trails and pine trees, and dotted with fishermen. Ta-daaa!
- Breaking out into random dancing is not only acceptable, but encouraged. It doesn’t matter if it is a choreographed dance, a flash mob, or a line dance; by the end of the week the campers will be wondering whether counselors are there to run or to dance.
- Training at 4500+ feet throughout the week. I will say, this makes a great excuse for various things, from bad runs to bad hair “…it’s the elevation!”
- Meeting great high school cross country runners, and being reminded where it all began. I worked with a couple teams who talked about tie dye parties, team sleepovers, pasta dinners, and putting matching ribbons in their hair and it just made me go “Awww I remember that!”
- Meeting other college runners and swapping stories about terrible freshmen years, living in the dorms, roommates, and such.
- Making new friends and bonding over the lack of sleep. It’s amazing how hilarious other people can seem when you all are running on 5-6 hours of sleep per night. This is probably one of the reasons that our table at mealtimes was constantly laughing, and why our camp skit sometimes doesn’t seem as funny a couple weeks later on well-rested eyes.
- Running and more running and more running. Hands down, easiest week ever to run 50 miles. Running twice a day with new people every time, and new routes means it’s never hard to get going on that run you were supposed to do today…
- Running up a freaking mountain. Normal people might use a chairlift; we use our legs (and our legs know it, trust me).
- Playing super fun camp games like Jenga, volleyball, and four square. Not to mention eating peaches as fast as you can and watching kids eat half a cup of dry oatmeal.
I could go on and on, but I won’t because I probably should run now, before it starts thundering again. Parting words, however, are that every year after camp, I come home exhausted, but strangely motivated, with a new focus for my summer training and with my eyes fixed on the coming cross country season. I am reminded why I love running, and how running truly does bring people together. Even though I did not go to high school in Washington, and can’t swap stories with other Washington runners about the state meet of 2008, I could still appreciate the fact that all of us are fellow runners, who devote hours of our time to an activity most reserve for fleeing cops or catching buses. As Brooks would say, “Run happy.”