Allons! the road is before us!

I spent the week with a group of lively 11, 12 and 13-year old girls.

As the Summer Camp Adventure Writers (a program of Seashore Family Literacy), we made each day an exploration of the world around us. We journeyed across the historic Alsea Bay Bridge, hiked the temperate rainforest of Cape Perpetua, took the city bus to Newport to wander the working bayfront, and kayaked Eckman Lake, where we paddled against a steady wind that made us feel strong and accomplished when we returned to shore.

As our call to action, we adopted Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road:

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Every day we viewed the world with fresh eyes, remembered to taste the air, smell the earth, touch the quiet world within.

One blink is all it takes to see a whole new world.
— Hannah, age 11

Each reflection sparked another so that our pens moved as quick as our feet and words flowed as easily as our laughter.

I search through my mind to find I have seen the small stuff. I have asked why and I know that when you explore yourself you will always find new things.
— Lexi, age 12

Next week, I will attend another sort of summer camp; I've been granted a fellowship to attend Fishtrap, a weeklong writing workshop in eastern Oregon. I imagine it as a summer camp for adults — with the same delicious emphasis on travel, both inward and outward. In fact, this year's theme is Migrations & Passages. The featured guest is renowned travel writer Pico Iyer, who wrote, "We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves."

For children and adults, I'm happy to say the same message applies: 

Allons! the road is before us!