Here Say: Your Stories about the Great Outdoors, Told at Stephens Lake Park
Here Say is a project in community storytelling. We travel to a new place each week and ask people to share true stories about things we all experience: love, family, learning and more. To see where we've been, check out our interactive map.
Mimi and Gigi Carter are twin sisters who don’t spend much time in the great outdoors. They told the origin story of their aversion to the wild.
”Well we were 10 years old and we went to summer camp for the first time ever. It was like one of those YMCA summer camps. And we’re identical twins, so we always had to do stuff together, which is never a good idea.”
”And we had to partners. So we decided that we wanted to be in a canoe, and we didn’t know how a canoe worked. It was kind of like Stephens Lake.”
”It was even our first lake, because we’re from Chicago, the city, so we don’t do outdoorsy things at all.”
”It was a lake about the size of Stephens Lake. So we got out in the middle of the lake, so far from shore, so far from camp. And we could not figure out how to get the boat to go back to shore so we were just spinning around in circles for like two hours.”
”We were paddling in the same direction, on the same side. I don’t know, we were spinning in circles, however that happens.”
”And we were crying, at 10 years old, yes it’s embarrassing, because there were all these black beetles.”
”We thought they were leeches, but they were water beetles, I later found out. We had watches a Series of Unfortunate Events where they’re eaten by leeches. We were so afraid, but it ended up being all right because someone came and got us.”
”That was the end of our outdoor experience. That’s why we don’t do summer camp. Or outdoors. In general.”
Daniel Hughes was chasing after his toddler when he told us a story about how growing up and playing outside in his neighborhood has taught him some lessons about being a dad.
“Just being out here reminds me of growing up. I’m not from Columbia, I grew up in Kansas. Being outside every day, not, you know, staying inside the new generation does.”
”I spent a lot of time outside growing up, breaking the rules, getting in trouble, being a kid, playing basketball. Everybody had bikes back then. When I was younger we had to be inside before the street lights came on, so we would get in trouble for staying out later than that. Friday nights the whole neighborhood would be out, playing hide and seek or whatever.”
“I’m trying to show my kids and be a better example to them by being outside and showing them there’s more to life than being in front of the TV.”
Idiris Demirsoy moved to Columbia two years ago. He told us a story about how spending time in the park helps him feel a little less like a stranger in a strange land.
”When I see the sun a little bit, I always come to Stephens Lake Park, it’s like tradition for me, so far.”
”I’m from Turkey, but usually we don’t take care of the parks, we ruin them. So this kind of park, we don’t have it. So if there is a park like this with a lake, you can’t fish in it. Usually there is an old guy here that I talk to, it’s a good park.”
”Does it make you feel like more of the community, coming here?”
”Ya, because honestly, in Columbia, I can’t say racist, but I could say they don’t want to be international, so far from what I’ve experienced. But in the park here, like I said the old guy, he has been to other countries before. He was a soldier. So people like that they understand you, because they’ve lived that experience. But usually in Columbia people have never left this state, so they can’t understand you. So they treat you hard, they treat you badly. It just feels weird sometimes.”
For more stories about the great outdoors, check out our interactive map here.