The Human Rain Stick

We begin by rubbing our fingers together. The sound, imperceptible, is obscured by a light breeze and the occasional bird overhead. Next, we snap our fingers. It’s hard in the cold, but the sound is persistent, an organized cacophony. Better still is the light clapping. The tips of our fingers on our right hands meet the palms of our left. With 42 campers the rhythm is undeniable. Ground squirrels scatter at the sound. Last, we pat our thighs. Compared to the dullness of rubbing our thumb and forefinger together, it’s booming and resonant. From the crescendo, we descend lightly as we cease patting our thighs and return to clapping our hands, snapping our fingers, and then rubbing them together. We are the human rain stick. The Santa Monica Mountains ASB team bid adieu to each other while sitting in a large circle as the sun descended behind countless peaks and cliffs. Frogs croaked from their home in a distant creek. One lantern, in the midst of us, lit our faces as we shared bright encounters and self-exploratory moments from throughout the week. We reflected on the several days in a wide open arena, where conservation was our game of choice. We made invasive plants our opponent, oak trees & native shrubbery our ally. Better yet, the sun and a slight breeze facilitated our work each day. The world was our office. For example, at the Santa Monica State Beach Park we removed invasive plants for countless hours over the course of two days. At Rancho Sierra Vista National Park, we returned over 1,500 native plants to the soil. A strong, unbridled connection was built between us and the planet that can’t be broken. The toiling work incited a destiny that individually transformed our relationship with nature. Whether we’re destined to work in a hospital, research lab or the wild, the SCA and American Eagle Outfitters equipped each individual with applicable knowledge and most importantly, compassion for one another. Our camp was its own planet that revolved around an unrelenting love. We love Earth. We love the outdoors. We love hiking. We love birds. We love rocks. Progressively we came to know each other as individuals throughout the week and we were introduced to another love. We love one another. We love each other’s work ethics. We love our team work. We love what we will become. We even love each other’s body odors. Most importantly though, we love Haley’s (our camp chef extraordinaire) burritos. This week, we removed ourselves from the humdrum of school work and the cacophony of technology and lived. Rather than being assailed from all sides, we sought out our passions without inhibition and dedicated 100 percent of our minds, bodies, and our interconnected hearts to improving our world. Each of these lessons mimicked the sounds of the Human Rain Stick with which we concluded our trip. Each smaller love — for rocks, birds, and soil — culminated to our resounding thigh pats of love for one another. One camper, Tazin, shared the sentiment that he wasn’t sure he knew how to say goodbye. What’s beautiful to note is that we didn’t have to. We’re connected by thousands of miles of mountain trails, expanses of back country, and scalable walls of rock. We’re connected through hopes, laughter, and shared interests that will directly (or indirectly) bring us back together to stand in awe at the splendor of our lands. We are, after all, one love. “I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own. If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.” - Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation