Story by Matthew Kellenberg '18
The trip begins at 5:30 AM, as you crawl out of bed and finish the packing you failed to do last night. The trip ends at 11:30 PM, a week later, as you stumble out of the third bus of the day, entirely prepared to sleep in your own bed. Everything in between defines the STA/NCS cross country experience.
After a rush to the cabins and an adjustment to sleeping in a new bed, the team wakes up for its first practice at 6 o’clock, hurrying to get down to the field in time for practice. A quiet warm-up across the dewy grass commences, and then runners split into groups based on their running experience, largely dependent on how much summer running they either did or failed to do. Once practice, breakfast, and a diligent cabin check are completed, the team is given free time, where the team bonding truly begins. Spirited, yet safe, games of tennis, beach volleyball, and tetherball replace the all-day practices that other sports have on their pre-season trips, prompting the argument that cross country isn’t a “real sport”. While these games, as well as word-assassin, dodging (and failing to dodge) zebra mussels in the lake, and unjustly killing frogs aren’t actively training us to become faster runners, our free time spent overlooking Lake Champlain is a valuable opportunity to learn new things about our teammates and prepare for upcoming runs.
The cross country camp experience reaches its peak at the Wigwam dance jam, a wild night marked by crazy outfits and the constant chanting of “let’s get weird”. Teammates find an incredible sense of unity as they all get hype to Sandstorm, an American classic by Darude. The colorful clothing lives on the next day at the Zany Olympics, where eight teams dress in color-coordinated outfits and compete in the tug of war, penalty kick shootouts, and dodgeball. This year, sponge relays and the water balloon toss were canceled due to rain and replaced by the championship of the annual ping pong tournament.
A fitting end to a wonderful week, the whole team gets together on the last night for a campfire, where all are welcome to sing, tell stories, and even do slam poetry. Watching a hilarious performance of “No” by Meghan Trainor, singing along to “Closing Time” by Semisonic, and hearing talented musicians such as the returning Jamie Large ‘16 lifts everyone’s spirits for the next day’s two-mile run and long bus ride home. There’s nothing like a week getting to know teammates, and more importantly, friends, in such a beautiful place by sharing such amazing experiences.
Thank you to the coaches, runners, Camp Abnaki staff members, and Rick’s Catering for another perfect week in Vermont.