Life Lessons From The Lake
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Life Lessons From The Lake

Lesson 3: Always carry your hip pack.

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Life Lessons From The Lake
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Everyone has that one place in life where they feel completely comfortable and at home. For me, this place is Winding Trails, a lake about 10 minutes from my house in Connecticut. From the time I was a baby, I spent my days sitting on the beach, jumping off the dock, and sailing around the lake. When I turned 16, I got a job as a lifeguard, and I am now going on my 6th summer as part of the Trails staff. The people at the lake are some of the friendliest people you'll meet, and our guard group is a close knit family. Through the years, the lake has taught me so much about life and friendship. Here are the life lessons I learned from the lake.

The Sand Bar is never as far as it seems...

There is a sand bar at the outer edge of the swimming area at the lake. It is a goal for all swim lesson kids to swim there one day. When I was little, I too had the goal of one day swimming the 100 yards through the deep, dark seaweed infested waters, until my feet finally touched the sand again in the small stretch of shallow water. When I was younger, I never thought I would be able get there; the destination seemed too far away. In life, I experience the same sense of doubt when I make any new goal for myself. But I learned that the more you work towards your goals, the closer you get to achieving them. I trained hard in swim lessons and swim team until one summer day when I finally braved the cold waters and made it all the way out. When I reached the sand bar, I was so relieved and proud of myself that I stayed out there for hours just soaking it in. It seems obvious: work hard and you'll achieve your goals, but at times, when my dreams seem too far away, I think back to how insurmountable that 100 yard trek seemed to five year old me, and how far I've come since then. Today, I don't give the swim to the sandbar a second thought. The lake taught me to never doubt my ability to achieve my dreams, because the sand bar is never as far as it seems.

Stay off the playground 'til the storm has passed...

The first thing we do as guards when we hear thunder is hop on our PA system and alert the lake goers to exit the water and stay off the playground. Why? Because there is no reason to make a bad situation, being outside in a thunderstorm, worse by standing on a metal playground. In other words, don't add oil to the flame if you're trying to put it out. In life, we all have those arguments with people that seem to get worse the more we try to talk them out. This is because the longer you talk, the more worked up you get, and you end up saying things that you regret. Taking time away from the person or problem can help both sides of the conflict to let the initial storm of emotion pass. When the skies have cleared, it'll be safe to return to the playground. Now that the anger and emotions of the initial argument has passed, it'll be a better environment for both people to work out their conflict, without it blowing up into a more significant fight. The lake taught me that sometimes the best thing to do in a bad situation is to stay off the playground 'til the storm has passed.

Always carry your hip pack...

For many lifeguards, the hip pack is a staple in their uniform. It carries first aid supplies, a CPR mask, and latex gloves among other lifeguard essentials (snacks). I almost never use the majority of the items in my hip pack (except the snacks), but I have them just in case of an accident or emergency. One day, I left my hip pack at the guard table as I went for a walk down the beach, and as things go, it happened to be the first day that summer that I witnessed a first aid emergency. Realizing I didn't bring my pack, I had to run to the nearest guard chair and have them radio to the guard table to have someone bring the first aid kit to where a little boy had tripped and cut his chin open. While this was not a life or death emergency, and there were few repercussions for not having my pack the second the accident happened, it made me realize how bad it could have been if it had been another situation. Say I witnessed a cardiac emergency and had to wait a precious minute for someone to run over with my CPR mask, or I wasn't near a guard chair and found a child unconscious and didn't have my radio on me to call for help. The lake taught me that you never know what could go wrong at the lake or in life, so it's always better to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst and always carry your hip pack.

Every day brings fresh sand to form...

Every day, the sand that covers our beautiful beach is used to build sandcastles and anchor beach umbrellas, and it is walked upon by families enjoying their time at the lake. By the end of the day, it looks like a well worn pair of jeans. It's riddled with footprints and giant holes that children love to dig for no reason. When the beach closes, the guards refill the holes, rake down the castles, and pick up the forgotten toys to prepare for the next day. In the morning, the tractor grooms the whole beach, creating fresh sand for the day to come. This reminds me that in life, each new day brings a fresh start. Every morning, you wake up with a beach full of opportunity to build, dig, and trek upon as you wish. Yesterday's worries have been raked away, and all that remains are the lessons you learned and the dreams you have for the day to come. The lake has taught me that opportunity is the greatest thing the future has to offer, because every day brings fresh sand to form.

In my 21 years on this planet, the lake has been a constant source of fun and friendship. As a kid, I spent my days swinging on the monkey bars and jumping off the dock. When I became a guard, I met the most genuine staff, who soon became my second family, and I made friends that I know will last a lifetime. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for my Trails family and the life lessons I learned from the lake.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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