War Canoe 2020

Finding your Supergirl

Supergirl vs. Warrior

A little Midget follows Supergirl into the dining hall for lunch and insists on sitting next to Supergirl during Sunday singing. The Midget believes with all of her heart that some of Supergirl’s powers will then transfer to her. Then, maybe she will be able to do her chores in less than one minute, tolerate the heat better during horseback, remember to use soap when she takes a bath, and actually eat three bites of her spinach rather than hiding it in her napkin.

Supergirl might even let the Midget borrow her cape to use as a mat for movie night, as shade for Field Day, or as a “lovie” to comfort her while she sleeps. This little camper’s adoration for Supergirl is precious and palpable.

Heart O' the Hills Summer Camp for Girls

War Canoe <3

One of the amazing things about camp is that every summer Supergirl brings all of her Supersisters to camp as well, and their fearless Supersponsors lead them. At the end of the term, these mighty sisters race each other in a long, silver bullet and head upriver towards the line o’ glory. The superpowers among this family run deep. Supersisters have been known to swim across the river in only one breath, ascend their Tribe Hills at bionic paces, and even keep Spot from digging tunnels around camp with their telepathic skills. Their presence around camp is just like royalty, and they have lots o’ little shadows at their heels.

Each year, the little Midget watches Supergirl use her powers for good and dreams of becoming just like her. Eventually, she grows into a Senior herself and has the honor of trying out to become a Supergirl. The Senior  immediately realizes that her nerves are not made of steel; her mind is full of questions and doubts about her potential greatness; and her big heart races in anticipation of the tryouts. The Senior gives herself a pep talk and reminds herself that there is always next year.

Fortunately, the Senior doesn’t have to wait that long, for the Supersponsors select her to become a Supergirl. The Senior Supergirl pinches herself and realizes that she is now part of the Supersisters!

After the Supersponsors announce the Supersisters to the rest of camp, the Senior Supergirl feels a tiny hand reach up to her after flag. A cute Midget wants to escort her to the dining hall, but this wasn’t the first time a Midget had reached out a hand. Ironically, this time felt no different than all the others. Isn’t she immediately supposed to feel a little bit stronger or maybe an inch taller? She keeps waiting, but her body feels just the same. Maybe such a transformation will take a few days.

Heart O' the Hills Summer Camp for Girls

Supergirls turned Warriors <3

After the first couple of practices, she feels more “superpains” than superpowers, and her flexibility needs much improvement. The Senior sometimes questions whether playing Twister in a long canoe with nine other girls while in motion is even a good idea, but she continues to dig deep and work hard. Her cape is actually a life jacket, and her shield is a paddle. The stunning, silver bullet that she admired all those years actually weighs a ton and can only be flipped and lifted by her entire crew. She even asks about studying a playbook on “How to Avoid Tumping Your War Canoe” which naturally gets many laughs from the veterans.

She starts to discover the symbioses between crew and boat, weight and balance, and form and cadence are critical to her crew’s success. Through this learning journey, the Senior’s love for practice and devotion to her sisters grows each day.

Though she does not make the boat the first year in war canoe, the Senior knows she must be ready to take a sister’s place if she gets sick or injured. At first, her reaction to the announcement is that of extreme disappointment like a new camper wanting to be in a certain tribe and drawing the other colored bead at Opening Ceremony. She wants to be brave and quickly wipes away the tears, but the frustration takes hold. She struggles with what she could have done differently or better to change the outcome, but ultimately, she realizes that she must first change her outlook. She must respect the war canoe process and those who are in the boat and those who hold the boat.

She then makes the boat the next summer and continues through her Teen years. Each day with her war canoe sisters, their boat, and the river becomes more sacred, holds new challenges, stirs intense emotions, and builds more confidence. The Teen cannot believe that the end of this camp chapter is only a few strokes away.

Heart O' the Hills Summer Camp for Girls

Pawnee Warriors <3

The Teen completes her final battle in the Guadalupe and has a moment of reflection on her tenure at camp. She realizes that she’s not Supergirl with super-speed as fast as shooting stars or super-strength to hang the moon, but rather a Warrior who faces each challenge with war paint on her face and her head held high. Her war canoe sisters push her physically and support her emotionally in and out of the water.

The Teen Warrior knows both victory and defeat, and she accepts both with tears o’ grace. She conquers great tasks not with ease but with passion, pain, and perseverance. She remains steadfast to her tribe and her extended Heart family.

The Teen Warrior recognizes that her war canoe experience becomes another essential life skill acquired at camp. She knows the bond between her war canoe sisters and respect for the other boat translates to a beautiful human connection that helps shape her Heart support system and enables her to face many of life’s tragedies and triumphs. She begins to understand that life is not as simple as green and blue, nor does life give everyone capes and shields as survival gear. More importantly, the Teen’s self-discovery reveals that her Supergirl was just a dream, but her Warrior becomes the reality o’ life.

Editor’s Note: Meredith Hill is a former Heart O’ the Hills counselor and Head O’ Field Sports. Three of her children are old enough to attend The Heart and Camp Stewart.
About the Author

Guest Blogger

Leave a Comment