by Peter Guthrie
Last Monday, I took a group of campers through a guided meditation. Throughout my years at The Center’s camps, one of the greatest gifts I took away was self-knowledge — arriving at camp in 2013, I had little sense of who I was, whom I liked being around, and what environments I thrived in. Over the next four years, camp was where I pieced together a sense of who I was. I wanted to set the same tone for my campers right off the bat, to convey the idea that SCATS has something profound to offer students beyond classes and socializing (though those are important aspects as well). I wanted to establish that while the “outside world” can be marked by deadlines, tests, and general anxiousness — especially for gifted young people — camp is first and foremost about exploration, about discovering facets of themselves and the world that they didn’t know existed before.
Meditation seemed like the natural place to start. It’s about looking inward without a pre-determined idea of what you’ll find, a process that to me underscores the meaning of camp. During the guided meditation, the campers lay down for 20 minutes — perhaps the longest uninterrupted silence in the history of SCATS — and went through what’s called a body scan, where they directed their attention to different parts of their bodies. Afterwards, many told me they were more relaxed than they had been in a long time, and felt more in-tune with themselves and their emotions. Zen fades quickly at camp, but I hope the idea of looking inward and noticing what’s inside sticks with my campers.