The anticipation is the worst part, by far.

IMG_20140621_082118It is a Drift Creek Camp tradition. Every morning at 7:30 am, each cabin shuffles through the old growth to the swimming hole. Campers are still wiping sleep from their eyes as parents roll out of bunks to meet the kids at the creek. Some parents don swimsuits and towels. The other half are in several layers of fleece and hoodies.

We’re summoned by cabins. Clackamas. Nestucca. “Santiam!” That’s Rohnan’s gang.

Ridiculous and illogical activities often require a song or chant to pump you up, so we half-sing, half-scream in unison:

“It’s summer time at Drift Creek. It’s 40 degrees below. The polar bears are swimming because we love it so. So early in the morning, we break through the ice and snow! It’s summer time at Drift Creek, and it’s 40 degrees below!! GO!”


We storm the water. DO NOT MOVE IN SLOWLY. You must fully commit. (No half-ass attempts are allowed.) You gotta get your head under the water or it doesn’t count.

The cold takes your breath away. Literally. If you haven’t plunged into frigid mountain waters, do it. Wakes you up faster than any latte ever will.

IMG_20140622_072225I could pretend I do this for Rohnan, for solidarity and to prove how much I love him, how far I’m willing to go for my son. After all, there is a highly coveted prize on the line (see left photo) and each drenched parent earns the cabin a point. But plenty of other moms & dads love their children as much as I do – they simply refuse to jump in the water. Why do I do it?

  1. When in Rome. Polar-bearing is part of the DCC experience. I want it all.
  2. “No risk, No fun” – Didi shared this mantra with me years ago and I try to live by it whenever I am faced with a choice of playing it safe.
  3. Because I love it. Goosebumps are short-lived. Chattering teeth go away. The rush of adrenaline and feeling totally alive – that stays with you awhile.

We don’t need a mountain creek or even a body of water to go polar-bearing. Every morning presents an opportunity to dive into something that will take our breath away.

What’s stopping you?


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