In Mexico, Using Lessons Learned at Ogichi

By Delia Colello

Every morning, I wake up to the sound of crowing roosters. A lot of mornings, I wake up early to walk on the beach and watch the sun come up. The big waves crash and the warm smell of the salty ocean fills the air. Occasionally, I see tiny baby sea turtles struggling to get into the ocean.

This is normal life in Sayulita, Mexico. My family and I moved here for a year to experience something a little different. In my mind, an Ogichi girl is a strong-spirited person, someone who is not afraid to get out of her comfort zone and try new things. Living in Sayulita has challenged me to be exactly that.

I’ve been going to Ogichi since I was about 7. One of the most important tools that Ogichi has given me is the confidence to take risks and try new things. In Sayulita, I learned how to surf and even joined a paddleboarding team, which is new for me—unlike skiing in snowstorms all winter.

Taking on these new challenges was not difficult because I already knew I was capable; I have gone on many canoe trips at Ogichi that pushed me far outside my comfort zone. Even carrying an eight-foot surfboard to the beach reminds me of portaging a canoe down a muddy trail.

Ogichi also taught me how to adjust to change and adapt quickly to new surroundings. Things don’t always work out. If we can’t paddle in a lightning storm, or we lose a whole wannigan of food, we have to adjust, adapt and figure out a solution.

The hardest part about moving to Mexico was starting at a new school where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. Although this was hard for me, it wasn’t completely new to me, thanks to camp. Camp taught me how to make new friends from different backgrounds, and to have an open mind when it comes to learning new things.

Waking up to roosters, hearing the crashing waves, carrying five-gallon jugs of water, and surviving in 90-degree humidity may be normal life in Sayulita, but it was not normal for me. However, thanks to the skills I learned at camp, I have been able to adjust to a totally new lifestyle in Mexico.

These skills not only helped me move to Mexico, but guide me through life in general. I use these skills all the time, sometimes without even knowing it. I truly believe that Ogichi has made me a better person.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Songs of the Paddle.

OgichiBen Woods