Once Upon a Time in Rocky Mountain National Park


By Nizhooni Hurd, ELK 2016 Urban Ranger

This year has been pretty rough for my baby sister, Shandiin, and I. For her, it was 5th grade. She is transitioning from elementary to middle school. Middle school is hard. Life gets more awkward and you learn so much about yourself and the friends you want in life. For once, you are not with your favorite teacher for 7 hours a day; it’s heart wrenching. With an additional shifting season, I have recently graduated high school. Need I say more? Let’s not talk about how hard this school year has been on our parents and especially our mom. Her babies are growing and leaving the nest. Enough said.

Therefore, camping, we concluded, is a great way for sisters to bond, slow down, and cherish the moments we have before life gets even more hectic.

The Rocky Mountain National Park camping trip was also my baby sister’s first ever wilderness camping trip. The night before, I nervously lingered around Walmart looking for any last minute items that she or I might need. In all honesty, we needed nothing; my anxiety just needed some distraction, as I was more nervous than my little sister. I wanted her to have a wonderful, safe and exciting first camping experience.

The next morning was rough. While I had work to do with the other Urban Rangers, Shandiin found herself playing a little bit of basketball with Brad and other Elksters. It was not long until Shandiin sprained her pinky. Great. We hadn’t even left yet! I’d like to call that a “pre-camping injury”. As the trip progressed and we headed to the park, I was worried her sprained pinky would get in the way of her camping experience. No worries, it did not.

Shandiin and I had the best time. When we were apart from each other, her laughter was never far away. It was so nice to hear her giggling and chattering with the other kids. I ultimately cherished the moments where we were together and secluded from the rest of the group and were able to share simple yet special moments with each other. Rather than bickering at home over what TV show we want to watch, we were able to sit silently with each other by Sprague Lake fixing a fishing pole in awe of the beauty around us. We were able to look up at the full moon and let its light bathe us. Shandiin and I were able to spend time away from our parents and be with each other, but also have time away from each other on our own journey. Shandiin even took her first nap in forever!

This was a great trip to kick off summer. I am extremely grateful that my baby sister came along. As both of our lives are beginning to speed up with new school registration and information, camping with ELK was the perfect time for us to slow down and truly cherish each other, especially in new experiences.