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It's Our Turn: Time for beautiful simplicity

Balancing on top of the slippery rocks, I closed my eyes and let the wind blow through my tangled hair. I breathed in deeply, the smell of rain and serenity relaxing every muscle in my body.

It was the summer of 2013 and I was on a houseboat trip with my church youth group. We spent five days on Rainy Lake, sleeping on the houseboat and making campfires on the islands.

When I first heard about the trip, I didn’t think I would be able to go. My schedule was full; work, softball practices, and many other events cluttered the pages of my calendar.

That’s the reality of a teenager’s life in today’s world. Our schedules are usually so full that we don’t have spare time to do the fun things, or the things that we need in our lives, like getting away for five days.

When I was standing on top of the rocks that day, an extreme feeling of peace came over me. All I could do was stare in awe of the simple beauty of nature I take for granted every day.

The trip was a truly life-changing experience. In the company of my close friends, youth director and pastor, I was able to escape the real world for a while and take in the amazing experiences that the outdoors can bring.

There was no Wi-Fi or network connection, so we had no way of communicating with our families and no way to check our Facebook or e-mail, which resulted in us relying solely on the company of each other and the serenity of the outdoors.

Some of my favorite activities included lying on top of the boat at night star-gazing, floating in inner-tubes across still bays, jumping into the water from the top of the boat, and watching the sun disappear every night, and reappear every morning.

Star-gazing at night was amazing. Lying in a row on top of the houseboat, my friends and I admired the endless array of stars. We stared at the infinite night sky until our eyelids were too heavy to keep open. As I drifted off to sleep, I realized how truly blessed I was, and I was finally able to appreciate the simple beauty of nature.

The next day, a few of us floated in a serene inlet, letting our toes drag in the sand at the bottom of the lake. My fingers lightly brushed the surface of the water and I focused on the sunrays hitting my skin, warming it. It was so peaceful Up North, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do but relax.

As afraid as I am of heights, leaping into the icy waters of Rainy Lake from the top of the houseboat was extremely easy. I stood for a while, peering down into the water. Only a hint of anxiousness came over me, but I got rid of the thought right away. When else would I have an opportunity like this? Without thinking about it anymore, I grabbed my friend’s hand and jumped. As I was in the air, I was so thankful I had faced my fear of heights, because taking that leap was so much fun!

Watching the sunrises and sunsets over Rainy Lake was breathtaking. Every morning I would sit on the rocks at an island and view the giant fireball rising higher and higher, until it lit up the whole sky and reflected off the glassy water. I watched the sunsets the same, observing the vast array of colors disappearing off the Earth, leaving only the stars and moon to light the sky.

This trip allowed me to escape reality and forget all of the daily challenges life can bring. I completely allowed myself to take in nature and form relationships with the people around me. I am so thankful that I had this experience to find myself.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.