Words by: Sara Rose McKenna | Photo by: Ivan Calderon
1. Saturday morning, 6am. Grabbing my seat on a bus heading off into the unknown, surrounded by 49 strangers who immediately offered me snacks such as homemade cookies, fresh apples, candy, introducing themselves and taking guesses at where we were heading next. I was told as a child to never get into cars with strangers - especially ones who had snacks - but something told me going against that advice at that moment was absolutely the best decision to make. I was absolutely right.
2. Saturday morning, 7:46am. I’ve now switched seats on the bus (full bus shuffle - we all had to sit next to someone we hadn’t spoken to yet), and am deep in conversation with a guy named Daniel about business, entrepreneurship, collaboration, community, life-work balance, our top favorite things to do (which we had hiking, nature, and travel in common) and society. Daniel immediately offered me a apple (which told me straight away he was friendworthy). We were so engrossed in conversation that at one point that Daniel texted Julian (founder of Chasing Sunrise, sitting at the front of the bus) asking for him to turn down the music so that we could hear each other better. Julian immediately did so and texted back "This text message just made my day!".
3. Saturday, 9am. The moment our service was gone and wifi didn’t exist - and the whole bus cheered and put their phones away to get back to connecting with strangers around them.
4. Saturday,10:30am. The moment we got to #Chasecamp, and played a massive rock, paper, scissors game to break the ice with everyone, and get to know our new tent roomies.
5. Sunday, 1:30am.The moment I became cuddle buddies with my tent roomie in the middle of the night because we were both cold, and how weird it actually wasn’t.
6. Sunday, 2:45am. The moment when my alarm clock went off at 2:45am and I sleepily crawled out of my tent bundled up in adventure wear, headlamp, and began our morning mystery quest. Praying for coffee, and cradling my coffee mug to my heart hoping the coffee gods would shine upon us. Oddly enough, it's at this moment I also realize that I haven't touched nor thought about my phone since arriving.
7. Sunday, 5:00 am. The moment when after 1 hour and 15mins of straight hustle up 8 kms of switchback road, elevating 500 metres, I finally reached the lookout point facing the cotton candy skies where the sun was slowly starting to stretch up. Catching that moment when the sun rises upon the horizon,with the smell of hot bacon, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and hot coffee wafted, waiting for us (the amazing chefs of the weekend, Fuel Your Fire, had been up an hour before we even started to get prepped for us).
8. Sunday, 8:00am. The moment when we finally reached the bus after 8kms back down, sitting down and realizing that I had successfully hiked 16kms, over 20 000 steps, 50 floors, in less than 2.5 hours (excluding the breakfast club at the peak while watching the sunrise starting the day) and it was only 8 o’clock in the morning.
9. Sunday, 8:30 am. The moment when we all arrive back at #Chasecamp from our morning adventure to then all pull our sleeping bags out from the tents to have a group slumber party on the grass right by the lake. Naptime never felt so good.
10. Sunday, 7:30pm. The moment when we all stepped off the bus back where had we started, but felt nothing like how we did when we had first left as 50 strangers. Instead, we felt like a family - one who was already making plans to continue the experience no matter what, and sadly was saying goodbye with hugs, and exchanges of phone numbers (“Oh yeah, we have phones!”).
11. Sunday, 8pm. The moment I got home, dropped my bag off my shoulder, sat down on my couch and realized how incredible of a gift the entire experience was - from start to finish. I was absolutely taken care of the entire time, I didn’t have to think about a single thing. My transportation, my home, my (vegan + gluten free) meals for the weekend were all prepared and ready upon arrival. I was introduced to 49 incredible, inspiring, amazing people, and now have 49 new best friends. I woke up at 2:45am and chased the sunrise up a mountain, and was fed a hot gourmet breakfast at the peak. I didn’t touch or even think about my phone once the entire time I was at #Chasecamp. And the whole thing was intentional - a gift - from a small group of people who just wanted to create opportunity for people to connect - to each other and to nature. All I can honestly say is: I am grateful.