Many things are larger-than-life for children — but it can affect grown-ups, too

We were formally introduced to the Tick Trail last Thursday night. As far as I can tell, we all arrived at home tick-free.
The Tick Trail represented a piece of my child’s experience at daily summer camp and a bit of my own memories.
Each day, dropping her off and picking her up, you could see a sign posted across a small playing field, at the edge of the woods. It stood at a path opening onto those woods. Tick Trail.
When I asked her to describe the Tick Trail to me, her words created a picture in my mind.
You go through the opening into woods. Then it’s a downhill scramble on a rocky stretch of trail. At the bottom of the hill, you go for a while until there’s a bridge that crosses a stream. Once you clear the bridge, there’s another stretch of woods to navigate, before you finally arrive on a large field.
Sounded like a daily challenge for young campers. Running the wooded gauntlet and dodging ticks (and other woodland pests) each day.
No wonder they named it the Tick Trail.
Last Thursday night was the camp luau. It was a farewell of sorts for many of the kids, because Friday would be their last day and only a few would be attending the actual final week of camp.
During the 10 minutes it took us to get there, dark clouds rolled in and the temperature fell 10 degrees. The rain began as we pulled into the Y parking lot.
We scrounged around the car and came up with a cast-off sweatshirt (a gift from a kind soul at a music festival), and the $2.99 umbrella I bought earlier in the summer on the Boardwalk when caught in rain shower.
The skies began to lighten, so we decided to make a dash for the head of the trail at the tree line.
I pictured the three of us slipping on the slick, rocky trail. I would fall and get muddy. Who knows what dangers might lie past that.
I stood by the Tick Trail sign and looked down the trail. The first 10 to 12 feet was a gentle slope peppered with small cobble, secure in the dirt. Didn’t slip even once. A few steps away was a small, raised wooden bridge, with no-slip tread covering the 8 or so feet that spanned the stream (you wouldn’t know it was there if you weren’t looking for it).
Then was a wide path running barely 20 feet before spilling out onto a large meadow with athletic fields, ancient pavilions, and bathroom building across the way that blared loud music. Seriously.
The rain eventually let up, then stopped. Nothing stopped kids burning marshmallows while making s’mores.
Several kids were learning the limbo ducking under a large tree branch held by two counselors in training. There was face painting and flip the flip-flop through the hula hoop game.
As I stood there, watching the kids play together, I remembered one of the lessons of childhood.
Many things in a child’s life are larger, darker and more threatening, because they’re experiencing it on a much smaller scale. Through the eyes of a child, the Tick Trail was a challenging experience.
Maybe it’s not just children with that larger-than-life view of the world. Sometimes, as grown-ups, we find ourselves in a child’s shoes, where our own fears can eclipse reality.

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