Hey there. My name is Brooklyn Morgan and I guided for Eagle Quest during the summer of 2013. If there is one thing you must know about me, it is that I love to tell stories. I grew up listening to my dad’s fictional fairy tales under the stars with my brother when I was a kid, and those words he dreamt up in his creative mind inspired me to become a collector of all sorts of stories. So if you would let me, I would love to share the not-so-fictional story of my summer as an Eagle Quest wilderness guide.
I was at my job at school when I received the phone call from Scott Chapman telling me in his totally chilled-out manner that he would love to hire me for the summer to be a part of the Eagle Quest team. Like any good employee, I ran away from work to answer the phone. Trying to match his cool demeanor, I leaned up against a wall with a hand in my pocket (complete with toothpick sticking out of my mouth) and said something silly like, “Oh really? Well, that’s cool. I’m excited.” Everything inside of me wanted to add exclamation points to the end of every one of those sentences. I wanted to break out into a song that I probably would’ve made up on the spot and throw confetti into the face of any individual that came near me (and I would’ve…but naturally, I do not carry confetti with me). As soon as we hung up, I did a high kick through the air and nearly assaulted one my co-workers by accident. I didn’t have to say anything for everyone to know that I got the job that I had been dreaming and praying about for several months.
So why was I so excited to (over) pack my bags and spend a summer at a place that I had never even been to before? Never in my life have I ever experienced such a strong pull inside of my spirit to want to be a part of something until the Wilderness Discipleship program at Eagle Quest came to my attention. One thing I’ve learned since being a Christ follower is to listen to those times that the Spirit is going crazy inside of me because it is always important. If only I knew what was to come this summer. If only I knew the kind of impact that a span of ninety days would have on my life.
Here’s the deal, what made my summer so impactful wasn’t getting to rappel down a 180 foot rock face, zip line 3,000 feet face first through the air, paddle 60 miles down river, conquer rapids, and jump off the black striped Pecos walls into the cool, refreshing river below. It was not necessarily rocking myself to sleep in my hammock almost every night on trail, drinking cowboy coffee until I felt like I had a chest full of hair, or wearing clothes that were permanently stained with the smell of dirt and campfire. Though all of these things will forever be engrained in my memory of my time spent at Camp Eagle as an Eagle Quest guide, it was something else entirely that made the summer so worth it.
I spent my summer encountering Jesus in ways I never had before. That’s what happened to me. That is the most important part. I experienced Jesus in soft, quiet, and profoundly beautiful ways. Ways that I was not expecting. I experienced homesickness for His kingdom when a friend told me, after we watched a lightning storm deep into the night, that the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 130 had never made more sense to her than in that moment.
“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning”
I experienced His joy like never before while laughing with dear friends under the windmill, which was the highest point in the county, and worth every drop of sweat it took to get up there. This place was everyone’s oasis after a challenging week on trail. The windmill meant that it was time to swim, shoot fireworks off, and eat like a carnivore. If that doesn’t scream, “America” then I don’t know what does.
The windmill will forever be the landmark in my mind that became the symbol of celebration, of friendship, and of liberty.
I experienced what it means to endure both physically and spiritually while fighting against a strong headwind in my kayak, and bushwhacking up a steep hill. With every stroke and every step, I was reminded of John’s words, “More Jesus, less me” (John 3:30). Those words echoed in my mind in a repeated rhythm anytime I found myself struggling. His presence was near.
I experienced what it felt like to stand in complete awe and wonder of His creation when I stood on the bank of the Pecos River one night. The still water perfectly mirrored the Milky Way galaxy above my head, gifting my sight with an extravagant view that would put an IMAX theater to shame. If I took one step off of the bank, I surely would’ve fallen into an eternal sea of stars.
I experienced His deep love through new friendships. Friendships I hope to hold until I am a crazy, people-loving, dog-owning, bicycle-riding, canvas-painting, old lady. I’d like to hold them past that point too. These friendships will stretch much farther than the thousand miles between us. I’m sure of it. They’re eternal. They bring me closer to Jesus, whether those folks realize it or not.
I experienced Jesus through the students I got to share life with this summer. I saw Jesus work through their struggles and triumphs, through their tears and their laughs, through those moments when they realized that they could do far more than they ever thought they could. My guess is that every single camper experienced that last feeling. I know I did.
My summer at Camp Eagle has deeply affected the way that I see the world, and my place in it. Since the summer, I’ve found that more and more things are reminding me of God’s goodness: A a sunrise, a rainstorm, the way the wind makes the grass mimic the ocean. Spending that much time seeking the Lord in nature will do that to a person. It’s my job to live with a grateful heart, to let Him know that I see his goodness and I am thankful for the way it makes my heart beat faster. Also, the physical tests of endurance have soaked their way down into my spiritual life. I’m thankful that I got to experience so much persevering in a place that genuinely wants to see eternal life change in people.