This post is from George Wurtzel, a former camp Tuhsmeheta leader and board member.
Serenity; Webster defines it as: The absence of mental stress or anxiety.
I define it as: Night watch aboard the schooner, Inland Seas.
Twenty-four folks from Camp T also experienced this during our July
2007 Adventure Sailing Trip on Lake Michigan. A week of hard work,
exercise, and careful planning made us all anxious. Our anxieties
turned to joy the moment that Captain Tom Kelley cried out “cast off
Three days of bliss was ahead. The Inland Seas slowly slipped away
from the dock and began transporting us to a place somewhere between
reality, dreams, and expectations.
For those who do not really know me, I am blind, tall, and passionate,
someone who will persevere and believe that the more experiences you
have in life, the richer your character will be and the more
interesting you will be to others. I grew up in Traverse City and
spent many enjoyable days sailing and playing on Grand Traverse Bay.
I am determined to make sure that Camp T creates opportunities which
will expand every blind or sighted person’s perception of what one can
You cannot know what you love until you have experienced it. We set
out on an adventure to instill a love of the outdoors, science, and
sailing; an experience that would stimulate the young minds and souls
of the Camp T campers, staff and the crew of the Inland Seas.
Our home for the next three days was a ship; 77 ft from stem to stern
with a beam of 19 ft which carried a ballast of 22 tons and had 2
masts with a sail area of over 1700 square ft. It would supply our
every need. (It also had a little John Deer 6 cylinder diesel engine
just in case.)
How do you navigate a sailing ship? How do you know how slimy a Goby
fish is until you hold one? Is the bottom of Lake Michigan, 400 feet
down, sandy or satiny smooth when you run a sample between your
fingers? If you filter 1000 gallons of bay water, how many Zoo or
Phyto plankton will you get? How fast is the boat going if 5 knots on
the chip log line passes through your fingers in 28 seconds? How many
midge flies must be flying at once for you to think you are hearing
alien space ships? These are just a few of the science questions that
we found the answers to while on our voyage.
Was it serenity or nirvana?
We took turns each night on deck, anchored off-shore of Power Island,
in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay. Our job was to take note of wind
direction and speed, whether the anchor is secure, check water depth,
wave height, whether there was water in the bilge, check the battery
status, and make sure all things ship shape, and then enter the
findings into the ships log book.
Then the time was ours to contemplate the Heavens, listen to the waves
rolling on shore, the rigging creaking in the wind, the occasional
surfacing of a fish feeding on bugs, and to let the gentle lull of the
boat massage your brain, stimulating dreams and desires. Anything is
possible; you could be a movie star, a marine biologist, a teacher, a
computer programmer, a doctor, an astronaut, a wife, a husband. The
possibilities seem endless, the same way it has been for mariners for
thousands of years.
In our hustle bustle world there is always an underlying cacophony of
ambient noise. Here at our anchorage, we were just far enough from the
fray of normal life so that the only sounds were of our ship and the
sounds of nature. Morning brought a slow but perceptible change from
night sounds to day, the low din of crickets and insects on the island
giving way to song birds and the first cry of sea gulls winging to
flight, the change of dense night air transitioning to the lighter
feel of day, the sun warming the side of your face, the ship coming to
life with smells of fresh coffee and baking muffins, a new day, like
no other, had begun. We would experience things that would shape our
hearts, spirits and open our minds to unfathomable possibilities.
Please join us to experience a world of change that Camp Tuhsmeheta
can bring to you and the rest of the universe during one of the many
different fun, exciting, and challenging programs that we hold each
year. Don’t ever accept that you can’t do something because you are
blind, but accept it as a challenge to find a new way. Remember
achievement is not given; it is obtained through perseverance and lots
of hard work.
Happy sailing whatever ship you are on!
To learn more about what we do at camp Tuhsmeheta go to WWW.campt.org