July 2018 Column Winner

Learning from old scars
Chelsea Weeks, Tri-County Herald

The rushing water felt cool against my sunburnt skin and as I began to wash the hot line of blood off my leg, I knew my foolish mistake would leave me with a scar.
Growing up, all my three-day weekends, summers and extended vacations included something outdoors.
Whether it was beach camping in San Diego, hiking in Zion National Park, or rappelling in Sedona, Arizona, I spent most of my life applying sunscreen and bug spray.
In the summer of 2012, my family decided to embark on a three-day, two night whitewater rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore on the Green River in Colorado.
The days included rafting through large rapids and swimming periodically to cool off, while the evenings included setting up camp and exploring untouched beaches.
Halfway down the river and through the trip, I sat by the fire waiting for dinner to be ready.
I was too exhausted to explore, yet it was too early to sleep.
I sat by the fire and watched the flames do their never-ending dance.
As boredom started to overcome me, I picked up a stick and began to whittle it with my pocket knife.
I had a perfect pointed edge and thought how great it would be to use for S’mores later.
I decided to poke the searing coals and ash with it, which lead to an increase of smoke in the air and eyes of those around me.
I received a variety of complaints and decided to get rid of my perfect marshmallow stick.
The force I used to break the stick on my left knee, sent my right hand holding the perfectly pointed edge straight into my right leg.
I ripped the stick out and threw it in the fire hoping no one witnessed my mistake.
Unfortunately, our rafting leader saw the whole thing and asked me if I was alright.
I rushed to the water before anyone else could see my pooling tears and streaming blood.
Looking back, the Green River water is probably not the best water to clean out an open wound with, but as an all-knowing teenager, I was too proud to ask for help.
As I run my fingers over the raised scar now, I am reminded of how silly mistakes and arrogant mindsets can make a lasting impression.

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