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Overnight at Echo Hill

by | Aug 26, 2015 | Family | 1 comment

Not long ago, Alden spent the week at Echo Hill, an outdoor school not far from Chestertown. She fed goats and walked in a swamp and spent a day on a boat in the Chesapeake. It was a day camp for the first part of the week, but on the final day, she got to spend the night, and I got to spend the night with her.

The night begins with dinner, of course. In the dining hall. Watermelon was involved.


When one is finished eating at Echo Hill, there are two buckets to consider. This one is for compost. Watermelon rinds, for example.


And corn cobs. The sorts of things that one would not reasonably be expected to eat.


But the other bucket is for SLOP, which stands for Stuff Left On Plate. In other words, food you didn’t end up eating that will therefore be wasted when you throw it away. The folks who run Echo Hill love the Earth and dislike waste. Which means all SLOP is weighed at the end of every meal, and the poundage recorded for the sake of awareness.


There were about 60 people at dinner that night, and there was only 2.1 pounds of SLOP. Not bad, I think. But the goal is total SLOPlessness.


After dinner, Alden helped sweep up. Echo Hill is the kind of place where everyone pitches in. Alden’s diminutive stature made her a good match for the under-table job.


After dinner, we fetched our sleeping bags from the car and headed for our cabin.


Where various camp-related singing and wiggling transpired.


Post-singing, we headed out to tour the grounds. We visited the goats. They were without a doubt the most civilized goats I have ever encountered.


We visited the vegetable and herb garden.


We found a beautiful bug that looked just like a leaf but wasn’t.


And then we walked into the woods. Thank goodness we were authorized.


In the heart of the woods, we found ultimate challenge—a wall that Alden was to climb the next day. Packing a favorable weight-to-strength ratio and a remarkably low quotient of fear, Alden is a little mountain goat. She wanted to scale the wall at that moment.


But there is a natural order of things. First campfire.


Then marshmallows.


Then lying on our backs and gazing at the meteor shower—a memorable experience that nevertheless provided no photography worth sharing.

And then back to the cabin for lights out. Alden and I shared a bunk bed. I was directed to sleep below.


I slept remarkably well considering my elaborate set of sleeping requirements and the fact that we were sharing a room with two other little girls and their mothers. But sleep well I did. In the morning, we awoke to another beautiful, hot, hazy Maryland summer morning.


There was another delicious meal. It was not hard to avoid leaving SLOP on our plates.


And then farewells before I headed back to my desk and Alden returned to the woods to climb that wall.

IMG_5772It is so good to be a dad. I had always suspected, but underestimated the satisfaction by a factor of 100 at least.




1 Comment

  1. jenifer e e



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