I remember arriving at Camp Kabeyun. We rolled up to the gates, saw the sign with its gothic font welcoming us to Camp Kabeyun: a Summer Camp for Boys. It was cold that day, but we were eager to be out of the car. I turned my phone off — I texted my family, the last text I would send for 6 weeks. Rachael was the first person to greet us as we poured out of the van, dropping backpacks and stretching limbs. I didn’t know her name then, just that we were suddenly being given directions by a small woman with long hair and a colorful knit hat. She looked like a woodland fairy… but stern. Her dog, Goose, was close behind. I would come to find that Goose was always close behind Rachael, watching the action with her grey-black chin perched on her paws.
When we left Kabeyun, the first song my van played was by Shakira. We turned it all the way up and rolled the windows down while we waved goodbye to the place that had been home for 6 weeks. All of the vans took some time to go to Walden Pond. It wasn’t really out of our way — it was a final trip for us all to make together. After reading so much about it, I think we expected it to feel like some kind of arrival, some kind of culmination of our time in New England. I don’t know why I thought it would look like Thoreau had described it. I don’t know why I was so surprised by the public beach that greeted us, the water filled with buoys, the children with swim floats tightened around their upper arms. We’d all had high hopes, I think, for Walden Pond, and arriving there slingshotted us bak into reality a little more abruptly than any of us were prepared for.