A Long Way From Home
The drive in was a beautiful, scenic, turn the music up and let all your worries fly out the window type of ride. I had a little over five hours to leave the city behind and mentally prepare for my first Adult Camp experience. Facilitating a Boxing Retreat was on my 2016 Goals List, so I was excited to receive the invite to go out for the week to teach the women boxing.
From the moment I accepted the invitation, to the drive in, the only expectation I had was that of a great time. I had only heard great things about the experience, so excitement was truly my only emotion until I was about 30 minutes from camp and I made a wrong turn.
There were quite a few signs of support for one of our presidential nominees, a few confederate flags, and upon making a quick pit-stop; an exchange, in addition to the intense glares reminded me that I was no longer in the city. The thought of going back and stopping in at that quaint corner thrift store I passed up the road, immediately turned into a prayer, “PLEASE let my reliable car continue to be reliable, and PLEASE don’t let me get pulled over or have to stop in this town for ANYTHING!”
As I drove off, I couldn’t help but wonder about what I signed up for. The next thirty minutes I had asked myself every possible question under the sun...”What did I sign up for!?, Are the women anything like the people I experienced in town?, What if they are? Where are they from?, How many of them are there?, Am I the first person of color that’s ever been to camp that wasn’t employed by the camp?, Should I cover up my tattoos the first time I meet them?”...Needless to say, the next thirty minutes felt like three hours.
I pulled up to a dirt road and saw the sign for camp. I had arrived. As I turned onto the main road that led into camp and slowly drove up the hill, I decided that what happened down the hill was not going to cast a shadow on the next five day happenings up the hill. A ride that began in peace, joy and excitement, that detoured into a state of fear, anxiety and resent, had come full circle. I chose not to have any expectations. In that moment, I chose not to judge people I’ve never met based upon people that I have. I chose to be open to receiving the new experience, the time, the women and all of my boxing, camp and campfire firsts.
As I pulled up into the driveway, there were a few of the ladies sitting on the porch. They looked at me, I stayed in the car and looked at them....And when my friend who invited me came walking out of the cabin smiling, I laughed because in that moment, I realized 1: That I made it. And 2: That they probably had just as many questions about me as I did about them. They knew they were going to learn how to box during the week, and they knew a woman was coming to teach them, but I think something (ok maybe a few things) about my appearance made them question what they signed up for!
The first night was a meet and greet. Everyone introduced themselves, shared a little about who they are, what they do, and where they were from. Some were meeting for the first time and others were camp regulars that grew up there and sent their kids there.
They talked a little about camp in the past, the events planned for the week and how much they were looking forward to boxing this year. I thought that was kinda cool that they were excited to experience boxing for the first time and that they weren’t afraid of me. I felt like it was the beginning to ‘The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ Unirondack Style.
Our first training day began with breakfast and questions about what we were going to be doing all week. Something different everyday, was my response.
If you know me, you know that I am a teacher through action and very few words. I’m an observer, forever a student, and a keen listener. I prefer to show you, rather than tell you about how saying yes to removing yourself from your comfort zone for just five days, can open your eyes, mind, soul and heart to experiences and people you may have never met if you hadn’t.
My Year of Yes: When you’re invited to teach boxing for Women’s Week in a small town upstate New York and you discover that confederate flags still blow proudly in the wind, that stereotypes are assumptions you enjoy defying and that in the end there is no end only new beginnings and we’re all here to just come together, share our worlds and dance.
Thank You Camp Unirondack for one of the most life changing, fulfilling weeks of ‘Firsts’ in my life.
Till We Meet Again,
-Boxing Coach Reese Scott
All professionally looking photos were shot by The Amazing Heather Smith...the not so professionally looking photos were shot by me. :)