10 years ago I set out to spend the summer in North America, to live and work at a Girl Scout camp situated in a magical forest located in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. With 443 acres of pristine wilderness, including an 80-acre lake and home to black bears, skunks, coyotes, river otters and moose, it provided the perfect setting for an outdoor adventure. I have always been drawn to wildlife and natural world, so the idea of spending a summer in the unspoiled wilderness, having the chance to go on overnight camping trips, hiking, kayaking, swimming, cooking over camp fires and sleeping under the stars naturally appealed to me.
My memories of the time I spent in the Adirondack Mountains are still very vivid, and some of the most defining and valuable lessons that I learnt that summer came simply from being in such a secluded and beautiful location.
Here are some of the simple, yet essential observations I made whilst spending quality time in nature
1. To live in the moment
With no mobile phone signal, and only a shared computer and telephone on the camp grounds to get in contact with our families, there was no other digital means to contact the outside world. Having that time away from social media, and all the other distractions the digital world provides us, we instead had the opportunity to fully experience each moment as it came. I began to live from moment to moment and embrace the here and now. Sometimes not everything went to plan, but as the summer went on I became better at adjusting and taking the challenges as they came. It was very liberating to be connected to the present moment.
Looking out at the forests and mountains towering above and beyond the lake, I realized that compared to the impressive scene in front of me, I was such a tiny piece of this world. I understood that we are just temporary inhabitants of this planet, merely visitors, and the planet does not belong to us. Knowing this made me look at things differently than I ever had before. My new perspective allowed me to appreciate the worlds true value, and I felt incredibly grateful that I had been given the opportunity to live on this magnificent planet.
“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.”
Exploring in nature teaches us so much about having an open heart and developing an imagination. One of my favourite memories from the summer happened after I discovered a particularly magical looking area in the forest.
The morning after a large storm, I brought a group of young girls that were under my care to the distinctly mystical feeling and beautiful area of the woods. I told them that the fairies that lived there had sadly had their homes destroyed by the storm, and I asked if they would like to help by building them new ones? This question sparked the girls imaginations, and soon enough fairy sized houses began emerging all over the forest floor!
The houses had bedrooms and kitchens, with bark walls and moss covered thatched roofs and tiny doorways and windows. They also made gardens that had sheds, benches and miniature fire-pits for the fairies. The girls went on to create a school, playgrounds and even tiny boats so that the fairies could take a ride on the little stream that ran through their miniature fairy village. I was blown away by the children’s incredible imaginations and creativity to create such amazing little structures out of all the bits of nature they could find lying around.
Throughout the rest of the summer we would visit the fairy village regularly to check that their homes were still in a good condition, and the girls would leave notes that they’d written for their fairy families… and without them knowing I wrote miniature notes from the fairies back to them! It was such a joy to have been a part of something so wonderful that was created by the young girls vivid imaginations.
Everything in nature runs at its own pace, and takes time to grow. Nature gives itself time to restore during the cycle of the seasons, just as we should take the time to refresh and start a new. The trees do not give themselves a hard time for not growing at a quicker pace; instead they give themselves the exact amount of time they need, and the results never fail to be marvelous.
Sometimes, things in life can take longer than we first anticipate. But when this occurs, we have to be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves with compassion. Just like with nature, we have to give ourselves the necessary time we need to grow.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
― Lao Tzu
How could you not be grateful spending time in the wilderness? With every new experience, with every new adventure, every camp fire, every laugh, every song, every new day, you couldn’t help but feel grateful for the entire experience of being together in the breathtaking, beautiful wilderness.
There is nothing better than the quiet stillness of the outdoors to truly make you hear your own thoughts. The silence meant that I took the time to understand my internal dialogue without any judgement or worry, and I didn’t overthink anything. Without the noise we all experience from our day to day lives, I was free to just think and be who I was without any external influences.
“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
― Albert Einstein
There is so much wonder in the natural world. During my time in the Adirondacks, I felt connected to the natural landscape, and it inspired me creatively. I spent a large part of my time there creating drawings and paintings that were inspired by the beautiful essence of nature, in all it’s forms.
I have always been drawn to the natural world to gain inspiration for my work, as animals and nature play a huge part in my hand drawn designs. It is with an on-going admiration and exploration of the natural world that I continue to create beautifully illustrated designs and prints, which ultimately bring the beauty and wonder of the outdoors into our homes and lives.
xx KC xx
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
― Vincent Van Gogh
All photo credits – Friends of Camp Little Notch
xx KC xx
Katie Craven is a luxury lifestyle brand, based in the Ribble Valley countryside. With design at the heart of the brand, Katie intricately hand illustrates each of her beautiful, classic creations in her signature pen, ink and watercolour style.
Katie’s illustrative prints turn the beautiful and the magical into luxurious pieces of artwork that can be worn, loved, displayed and treasured forever. Her designs are “created with the aim to bring joy and magic to everyday life” and her inspiration is drawn from all aspects of daily living, including small magical moments, daydreaming and the beauty of our natural world. Her inspiration also lies in classic vintage styles from eras past, including work by Victorian designer William Morris “who believed the world could be made a better place through the creation of beautiful things.”
Inspired by Katie’s love of all things beautiful, we are devoted to making exceptional quality stationary and silk scarves that are proudly made in England, created to inspire and encourage the traditions of sending letters and gift giving.
With British luxury at the core of the brand, attention to detail is taken at every aspect of the products journey and we take pride in selecting the highest quality fabrics and paper stocks to ensure the longevity of our luxury collections. Sustainability is at the forefront of everything that we do, therefore all of our greeting cards and paper products are printed on FSC certified card, sourced locally to us in the beautiful Lake District.
Our luxurious silk scarves have been specially created to add a timeless, elegant finish to any look, invoking a sense of beauty and magic whenever worn. We are proud in the knowledge that our scarves are truly beautiful pieces of wearable art, that have been drawn by hand with an exquisite level of detail and printed onto the finest silk twill material, to be loved & treasured forever.
Each Katie Craven design tells it’s own unique story, featuring an illustrated, imaginary world that has been created to incite a sense of joy for life whenever admired.
Take a look at our luxury greeting cards and silk twill scarves here