By Jack Gerdsen, grade 8
In today’s society most of the population is sucked into social media, thinking about nothing but technology. Everyone is so tied down to this fact that we don’t appreciate what this world has to offer. But what if you wake up one day surrounded by the woods, with nothing but the clothes on your back and the path ahead? You’re about to embark on the journey of Cabin Yeezy.
It was nearly 10:00 when I woke up. Every morning was nearly the same with all of us waking up from the unbearable heat inside our tent. Gasping for the cool air, I unzip the entrance as quietly as I can, trying not to disturb the others fast asleep. The immediate splash of cool air hitting my oily skin completely refreshes me. I stumble to the nearest bench to lie down. This is a typical every-morning thing: getting out of the tent and then lying down on the cold bench waiting for the others to wake up from their slumber. Desperate to eat our stale cereal, I wait with little to no patience. I sit up thinking to myself, “Why am I even here? Let me go home…” Just then, Will, one of my cabin mates, steps out, stretching.
“How’d you sleep?”
“It was the same as always, getting little to no sleep with the bears making tsunamis of noise,” I reply, chuckling.
“Is Pj up yet?”
Pj steps out of the tent right after Will asks this. Pj is one of two counselors with us on this trip. He’s from the Australian region; it’s his first time here in the mighty States, so you could imagine the confusion.
“How are you doing, boys?”
“Tired and hungry,” we respond in unison. Pj heads towards the stash of food we brought (not nearly enough) and pulls out the last box of cereal.”
“All right, boys,” says Pi, “as you know, this is one of our last days here. This is the last box left. Eat as much as need; we’ve got a long day ahead.” Will and I sit down at the table with barely enough room for us to eat with all of our complex biking gear on it. We make enough room and pull out our tiny tin bowls. Reaching to the cereal, I pour as much as I desire. I look over to see Will’s mouth open in amazement.
“Yo, I gotta eat, too!”
“My bad, take some of mine,” I respond.
Both of us begin eating away. I look over to see Blair step out of the tent. Blair’s our other counselor, born and raised in the hills of Scotland. Blair engages in conversation with Pj on the other side of camp.
“Hey, Will, do you ever miss home?” I ask.
“Yeah, I do, all the time. It frustrates me because home is always on my mind and I can’t appreciate any of the sights we see,” Will responds.
“That makes two of us, buddy.” My other cabin mate, Barhite, steps out of the tent. Barhite is the comedian of our cabin. He is always trying to crack jokes, usually at the wrong times.
“Hey, Barhite! How ya doing?” Will asks.
“Man, it’s hot in there!” With his face full of sweat and exhaustion, he travels over to the table, simultaneously picking up the cereal box and pouring it into his bowl. Pj and Blair follow, sitting down on the opposite side of the table.
“All right, boys, any idea on what you guys want to do today?” Pj asks.
“Well, since it’s the Fourth of July, I think we should do something different,” I respond. “I say we do that cliff jumping you were talking about earlier.”
“I’m down,” both Will and Barhite say in unison.
“Well, sounds like we are doing that. I’ll go pack up the food,” Pj says. He gets up with his cereal, heading towards the other table, where our stale food sits all day. The rest of us still stay stationary on the bench, so dehydrated and so exhausted.
“Let’s go! We only have a limited amount of time before the fireworks start up,” Pj screams. All of us on bikes head towards the cliffs of Springfield. Our camelbacks are filled to the brim with water that we hope is clean. Whenever we get on our bikes, it is always at least a four- to seven-mile ride to wherever we are going. It takes a lot out of you. Ugh, I’m so done with this, I think to myself. So much work, it’s the summer.
“OW!” Barhite screams. All of us slam the brakes of our bikes in concern. Turning around, I see Barhite against a tree.
“I’m dying, hahahaha!” Will says. All of us are now laughing at the wreckage.
“Sounds like you need training wheels, buddy. How do you hit a motionless tree? It’s not that hard to steer,” Pj says.
Barhite gets out of the tree, and he looks down.
“You okay?” Blair asks.
“I’m fine; nothing’s bleeding. Let’s go.”
We hop back on our bikes. We are almost to our destination, and I look behind me to see Barhite muttering under his breath.
“You good?” I ask.
He answers in disgust, “I’m fine. Keep going!”
All of us feel a sense of desperation to get to the cliffs. I slowly fall into a daydream as we continue our straight route. I start to see my parents, friends, and my house, sliding in front of my eyes.
“Hey, we are here, boys!” Will says, cutting off my reverie. Pj starts leading us off the road; I read the sign in front of the gravel lot.
“No one’s here?” Will says.
“Everyone might be at the parade,” Pj says. We enter the parking lot, heading towards the woods to hide our bikes. I pick up my bike and put it in between some trees. The rest of the group does the same.
“Follow me,” Pj says. All of us follow him on the twisty trail as he leads us in many different directions. After about 15 minutes of searching for the cliffs, we find them. We turn the corner to see a clearing of steep, rocky cliffs leading to the deep Lake Michigan.
“Radical, dude!” Barhite says. All of us race towards the top. We reach the highest point. We look down to see the blue, cold waters. We all stop to take in the view in still silence, and of course, Barhite breaks it with his uncomfortable moaning noise.
“Which one of ya is going first?” Blair says. Pj’s shirt is already off; he is always the adventurer of the group.
“One, two, three…OH, MY GOD!” Pj screams. You can sense the fear in his voice as he jumps in with a SPLASH.
Pj swims back to the top, yelping, “I’m okay!” This inspires Will to take a swing at it, jumping with just enough speed to not get hit by the rocks below.
“You ready, Barhite?” I ask. He just looks at me, takes his shirt off, and grabs my hand.
“Let’s do this, babe.”
We just stand there admiring the distance below with so many thoughts racing through our minds. The world starts to become small and cold; I begin to get the chills. They run through my cold back and down my legs; they begin to wobble back and forth.
“C’mon, Jack, let’s get it going,” Blair says. Don’t do it, I think.
“You only live once!” Barhite jumps with my hand in his. I am traveling at the speed of light straight towards the cold water below me. BAM! We hit the water, and I go straight down into the depths of the unknown. It was so cold, so cold. I viciously paddle to the top, gasping for a breath of air.
“There we go, boys!” Pj hollers down. I get to the rocky shore and climb back up one foot at a time, trying get to my warm, comforting hoodie. I reach the top. “How are we doing?” Blair asks.
“Good times, my man, good times,” I reply with a shivering smile. Barhite is still, somehow, swimming in the Antarctic like water. Blair sprints out in front of me and jumps off the cliff.
“WOOOOO!” Blair yodels. He is one happy camper until he hits the water. I look around at my surroundings and see nothing but endless, blue, clear water and the breathtaking pine trees towering behind me. I grab my hoodie and sit down on a nearby log. Was it really worth coming out here, honestly?
“Saddle up, boys, it’s time to go,” Pj says. Barhite makes his way back up, with Blair and Pj in the tow. It’s about 5:30 now, and we decide to stick to the trails for a bit. We start back to get our bikes; thankfully, they are still there. We grab them and leave the abandoned parking lot. All of us are tired of the wilderness and all set to manage an applicable lifestyle. All of us are ready to go home. We arrive at the trailhead, and within limited time, we get on the shortest trail.
“Just follow us; we are almost done,” Blair says with exhaustion. We start to bike the rigorous terrain, building up speed as we hit a sharp turn and see the steepest incline you could imagine.
“No turning back! Let’s get this, boys!” Barhite says with integrity. All of us are putting our heads down and shifting to the lightest gear. So much blood, sweat, and tears built into this trip. We start to hear fireworks go off left and right.
“C’mon, boys, we are almost there!” Pj screams. I look down, and an abundant supply of sweat drips off my nose. I feel so much frustration, so much homesickness. Just not knowing what’s going to happen next or where you are in life can really affect you. We reach the top to see a gorgeous view of the mountainous terrain and rolling hills. I start to tear up. We all burst into tears. So much work, so much emotion—and honestly, all of it was worth it.
I might have been gone all summer, and I might have missed my home, but it changed me as a person, and I find myself thanking God for the experience of a lifetime. We see fireworks popping and crackling in the distance; everything was worth it. There’s less time than you think—enjoy it.