I was once told that there are two types of people: water people and land people. As a kid, I would spend almost everyday in the summer swimming for hours, only getting out reluctantly to reapply sunscreen. Even into my adult life, after almost every hike or long day, jumping into water is the remedy to all my problems. Upon arriving to Jawbone Flats, even though I knew loved swimming in water, I didn’t realize what an important role water was going to play in my experience here.
A week ago I went on my first backpacking trip as co-instructor. Tyler was the other instructor, and if you know anything about Tyler, you know he loves to swim. At every chance we got we were in the water. Every kid, whether they’d had a hard day or not, had a smile on their face. It didn’t matter if it was a freezing creek or a sulfur-smelling lake, they were laughing.
Neurologists explain this phenomenon by the color of the water: blue. But it’s not just that water is blue, it’s that the blue is surrounded by green. These two colors are the most powerful colors to our brain and can change a person’s stress level exponentially. With kids, I’ve learned that you can spend hours in the water and it will feel like minutes, because it’s a place where you can forget about everything and find entertainment with a splash.
On many of my days off, I’ll jump in the creek followed by hours laying in the sun. Usually I’ll have a book with me, but just like the way water can clear your mind, it also has the power to make you think. I attribute this to the movement of the water. That book I always bring rarely gets read because the water acts as a therapist to my thoughts. If I’m by a lake, the stillness of the water can be mesmerizing, but also the possibility of movement by throwing a rock is intriguing. It opens up a part of your brain you don’t usually tap into.
Sound is another aspect of water that I think is sometimes overlooked. Almost every morning in town, I eat my breakfast on the back porch of the lodge. From there, even though I can’t see the water, I can hear it. On days when I’m eating alone, the water acts as background noise to my thoughts. Days when I’m eating with other staff members, it’s as if the flowing water makes the conversation flow more smoothly.
While working at Jawbone Flats, there are so many things that I have learned about myself and what I am passionate about. The staff here is amazing and each and every one of them has taught me something. Leaving this community in a month will be harder than I could’ve ever imagined. I knew when it would be time to go I would miss living in a little remote town surrounded by trees and mountains; but something I never expected was how much I would miss being constantly surrounded by water. To me, that’s what makes this place so special and I will take that for granted.