I grew up in Washington State. Each day I lived in the epically beautiful shadow of Mount Baker, a 10,000-foot peak in the North Cascade Mountains. It rose from sea level where I lived and reminded me that nature was enormous and present. I spent summers hiking and camping in the foothills of the Cascades and winters skiing, snowshoeing, and building snow caves to camp. I spent the fall collecting berries and hunting, and the spring nourished by the floodwaters and the snowpack.
Connecting Nature and Literature
With these landscapes defining my reality, I also turned to literature to have it reinforced. The pages of Jack London, Mark Twain, Norman Maclean, and Wallace Stegner expanded my understanding of what it means to be rooted to the earth and enjoy the connection to it and others in the community.
My rhythm of life was informed and dictated by the geography of the Cascade Mountains and the inlets of the Puget Sound. The highlight of the year was the back-country camping I did with friends and family. It started out with my dad and I driving up old logging roads to find our trails and rustic campsites. As I got older, I went out for a week or ten days with friends into the Alpine Lakes and meadows. We lived off of what we packed or caught with our portable fishing rods.
Value and Lessons From the Wilderness
This lifestyle was rooted deeply to the earth and what it produced. I hold onto the values it taught me. I know that there are things bigger than me in our world and that has embedded a sense of humility. I know that if I want to eat, it is up to me to figure out how.
This showed me how to be resourceful and to work hard. I also have seen the beauty that superseded anything my imagination could contrive. This still gives me a sense of wonder and has nurtured my sense of spirituality.
Adventure Camp With Summers at Pennington
I am committed to sharing these perspectives with young people to inspire, teach, and offer experiences for them as a part of Summers at Pennington's outdoor day camp offerings. I see beauty everywhere I look, and that restores me when I am depleted and challenges me to live with an ethic that communicates my profound admiration and respect for the earth.
The Wilderness Trip will be an adventure, and I am excited to add another volume to my experiences with the students at The Pennington School this summer!
Summers at Pennington is dedicated to providing experiential and informative summer programs for youth in the Mercer County area, which includes Princeton and Hopewell. Take a look at our summer day camp offerings or contact us with any questions.
David Hallgren, M.Div.
Chaplain, Teacher of Religion
Camp Director of Pennington in the Wild: The Wilderness Seminar