My summer is officially over

Well, today was it – my summer is officially over, and it seems a little bit surreal.

For one, the weeks absolutely flew by – but as I click through my previous posts, it’s obvious why the days rolled by so quickly.

So today, I tied up a bunch of loose ends, I sent in forms, signed papers, and packed up the camera the SCA so generously lent me for the summer. I went out into the swamp for the last time today- Fred and I went to snap a few pictures and read some staff gages. Then, in the afternoon he threw me a little pizza party.

It’s so strange to consider the fact that I won’t be pulling on my rubber boots on Monday morning to head into the office, coffee in hand. I got hugs and good lucks and good jobs and keep in touches. Between my chat with the refuge manager and my supervisor, I feel a lot more confident about how I did over the past couple of months.

I worked pretty hard – as I had intended to. There were days when I felt unmotivated, incapable, or tired, but there were also days when I felt eager, competent, and energetic. From the get-go, I felt like I had a steep learning curve to climb, just because I had a nonexistent background in water. I had no experience at all in field work – the only backpacks I ever carried had textbooks in them. The only boots I owned were to keep out the Upstate New York chill in the wintertime.

Well then! I got good feedback – I picked things up quickly, and my willingness to jump in ditches and hike through the swamp was appreciated. Of course, I couldn’t have been willing without the support of everyone reading this, without everyone that took the time to reach out or chat with me. My mentor, Juancarlos, has been a godsend the entire summer. My parents have been so utterly supportive throughout this entire experience.

I’m happy with what I’ve done! I’ve grown as a person – I have renewed confidence in my ability to seek out and accept new challenges. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and have emerged wiser because of it. I feel like a Vassar Girl – as strong and bold as the SCA’s founder, Liz Putnam. The Great Dismal Swamp is a part of me now- not just the ticks and bug bites and tiny scratches I’ve picked up along the way- but now I can surely say that it’s one of those places that has shaped me. I’m not just talking about the muscles I didn’t know I had in my shoulders and arms, I’m talking about everything else. Of course, I’ve learned from the people I’ve been around, from those late night conversations at the bunkhouse to the long rides in the truck.

So now, armed with this new experience, I head into my next adventure – with a new fearlessness regarding the great outdoors. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about my summer, I really, truly appreciate your taking the time to share this with me.

Again – thank you! To those of you reading, to those of you at the Great Dismal Swamp, to the CDIP and the SCA and everyone connected to them, and of course, to the swamp itself.