When one thinks of the District of Columbia, the first thing that comes to mind typically isn’t ponds, swamps, and national parks. Or at least, I can say this to be true for myself.
Yesterday I was a part of a service project through my university’s co-ed Community Service Fraternity. We went to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, where I was reminded the importance of spending time outside and in nature.
Many people of my generation (myself included) can be so immersed into technology, social media, and life behind a screen, that we often forget not only the beauty of nature, but also the powerful effects it can have on our mental health.
We also sometimes forget how good it can feel to help improve nature, to take the time to clean up a pond while dressed in funny looking suits with boots attached to the pant legs. Not only can it feel good, but it can be a ton of fun, especially when you’re out there with friends, putting your energy into something productive while tasting the fresh air as you inhale.
For me, the best part was tied between two moments: chatting with a friend, laughing, and learning new things about each other as we worked — being in the water, feeling its coldness without getting wet (well… until I fell over and liquid seeped into my suit that is… but that just happened to me!) and gazing at the trees all around us while listening to the quiet hum of bugs.
I can even say it was nice to have my phone tucked away on dry land in someone’s bag, rather than in my pocket. It was refreshing to be 100 percent away from the screen (although I’ll admit I was guilty of ‘instagram-ing’ a photo later..but hey, that’s life in 2015).
(photo below was taken by a friend: I look a little rough but it was to physically be in the water!)
Additionally, the staff at Kenilworth were wonderful– they hosted not only our fraternity, but many other university and high school groups– even a kindergarten aged girl scout group! I’m so glad I got to have this experience with them. Hopefully I’ll make it back to Kenilworth before the semester ends.