A WILD Reunion

by Julia Page, Deer Run & WILD Alumna

Nearly 8 years after graduating from WILD (Moose River Outpost’s leadership program, Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development), I was headed back to Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run for the very first WILD Reunion. There, I would be greeted by a group of other WILD alumni and staff. All would be excited to spend the weekend reliving those precious days in the backwoods of Maine and forming new friendships with others who carried their own related memories.

Julia far right

Saturday morning, we circled up to pray before heading out to the trailhead of Mount Chocorua. The night before, as I was driving in the dark and pouring rain to get to camp, my mind had been cluttered, thoughts racing between the events of the day and all the work that would await my return. But starting along the wooded path that led us to the rocky peak of Chocorua, my heart and breathing slowed, and the worries faded. God granted me rest, even as my body worked to scramble up boulders, reminding me through His creation of His power and providence. As we climbed up tracks of snow, trying to balance on the narrow ridge of hard pack, we recounted stories of WILD adventures, compared notes on how the WILD experience has evolved, and grew in relationship with each other, whether we had spent two summers in Maine together or had just met.

Mount Chocorua Summit, elevation 3,478 feet

Approaching the summit, the wind roared and snow flurries blew into our faces. “We’re WILD!” someone shrieked, and we huddled for a picture to commemorate the moment, bracing each other against the wind and cold. Nearing the end of our descent, we encountered a rushing stream with no clear way to comfortably cross to the yellow blaze-marked trail on the other side. Hannah began crawling out across a log, and I followed. Then all of a sudden, “She’s doing it!” I turned to look, and Bridget was marching straight across the stream, boots fully submerged. We were WILD, after all.

That evening at camp, after a delicious dinner and a walk down to the waterfront to soak in the view, we gathered by the fire to toast s’mores, share our highs and lows from the day, and tell more stories. Whether WILD was one or eight years ago, we had so much shared experience: trail food disasters, powerful spiritual moments, crossing Moosehead Lake in formidable winds, and a few antics and inside jokes.

We closed the weekend with worship in the outdoor chapel on Sunday morning, reflecting on what it means to know God and singing songs of praise. Looking around at the circle of faces, I was struck by how united I felt with this group of people, most of whom I had met that weekend. We were united by the same things that had drawn me to WILD 8 years before: a love for our God and for the mountains and woods He gave us to enjoy.

Julia Page is a Camp Deer Run and Moose River Outpost WILD alumna. She grew up in Winchester, MA and is currently a graduate student in Boston. page.julia.e@gmail.com