Camp Out with 12 Youth from Glass Street

Guest Blog post written by Nicole Lewis, GHC’s part-time community coordinator. When people ask me what drives me I tell them possibilities. The possibilities are endless if only you can see them, but it is up to us as a community to engage in the conversations of how to include all people in a pipeline to possibilities. When I arrived in Chattanooga almost 2 years ago, I was unhappy professionally and personally, but being outdoors gave me direction. A squirrel doesn’t need me to help it find acorns. The trees will grow marvelously without me. In nature we are merely beings living an experience that is in perfect harmony with what is happening around us. The grass grows knowing the caterpillar will eat it which will give life to the robin who lays their eggs and produces this beauty all over again. All things have purpose and nature acts out this purpose regardless of the disturbances or interruptions. These things I desire for my kids to understand. You don’t have to be anything the world has chosen for you, but you can be you. Your background doesn’t matter here. Your struggles don’t matter. This beauty and hope is as accessible to you as all others if only you know where to go. If only you know this is for you, but we must start with exposure. We must let them see and feel the vision for themselves.

I had the honor and privilege to with the HELP of Terri Chapin of Outdoor Chattanooga to engage 12 youth in an overnight camping trip at the Chickamauga National Military Park Saturday April 23rd-Sunday April 24th. Nervous, I had no idea what was in store.

We started early leaving at 10:30 in the morning arriving at 11 Thank you to Kay Svoboda Parish and her friend for washing all 13 sleeping bags. . I can’t imagine how long that took to do. I was so proud of my older youth who took the initiative to set up there tents ON THEIR OWN!!! They took what they learned from the previous week and were successful. So proud of you guys. Chrystion Mckibben Javuntae Mckibben Ïbëē Ñìyãh….My younger ones worked together to set up the 9 PERSON PARTY TENT!!! Graciously given by Teal Thibaud (They thought they were hot stuff in that tent hahahah) After set up an explosion of personalities occurred , but we worked it out. No matter what, we will work it out. We are a family. We are a village. It will take all of us, and through conflict and explosions there can be progress. We have to get to the root and pluck it to be rid of it. My wondrous and open younger youth. Their spirit drives me. Wide and open to change. Open to new experiences. No fear of the world telling them what and who they should look like. Water fights, ravine hikes a dehydrated snake.

Thank you Cie Cie Photo World and Eskay Jr Photography for capturing these moments!! Thank you Kathy Barr and your husband for capturing the words of honesty from them. We made dutch oven lasagna!!!! Gosh, who knew camp food could be so amazing?? Thank you Jessica Irene Stewart for coming all the way from Atlanta with Jala to support what I am trying to do. Topped it off with S’mores and campfire stories, a owl sounding off in the night and lots of singing. Thank you to Rachel for capturing some of the moments through film. Smiles and happiness filled the air that evening. Perceptions began to shift and confidence in their abilities began to form. The next morning we were greeted by Allan, Alice and Jack McCallie who kindly prepared the children Bacon, Eggs, Biscuits, Blueberry and Banana pancakes with Orange Juice. Some fell asleep immediately as we left. Peaceful sounds exuded from their bodies as we rode home.

I am so thankful to be surrounded by people who recognize that they have something to give. Thank you Gail Mitchell McKeel Rondell Crier Zachary Atchley for coming to support. Thank you all so much. Whether it be money, time, or resources we all have something to give. We are a collective. We are the change we wish to see. I plan to put up photos soon. Please follow Glass House Collective for updates and photos.

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