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Thorn, Rose, Bud

I spent the summer of 2019 working at YEA Camp, a social justice summer camp for aspiring activists. It was there that I learned about “Thorn, Rose, Bud.” Thorn, Rose, Bud is a classic camp counselor game created for cabins and cots.


Each person goes around and shares 3 pieces of their day. The thorn is the worst part of the day or the part they wish had gone differently. (That’s why I like saying thorns first.) I’m sure you’ve guessed, then, that your rose is the best part of the day. And finally, your bud is what you are most looking forward to tomorrow.


After the last session of YEA Camp, two of my new friends and I decided to rent a car and drive from the camp in Southern California up to Washington state and back. After months of being on the road, I figured another week or so wouldn’t hurt and before I knew it, I was setting up a tent with two strangers who would turn into some of the greatest friends I’ve ever known.


But back to the game. Our first night together, I made a joke about playing “Thorn, Rose, Bud” each night of the trip. It was more a way to bond over shared camp experiences but before I knew it, we were sharing our highs and lows.


Every night, after we’d cleaned our camp stove and climbed into our tent, we’d share our Thorns, Roses, and Buds. Because we were on a camping road trip, we always had exciting new things to share and to look forward to. We also had our share of Thorns.


I’ve been thinking a lot about this game recently. For almost 10 years of my life, I’ve documented a daily Rose through “Happiness is.” And as such, I’ve become vibrantly aware of the world around me in ways I never could have dreamed. But perhaps there is something to holding space for our Thorns.


There was a night on the trip where we had the same Thorn and nobody had to say anything to know it. Then there were nights where someone’s Thorn was someone else’s Rose. And night’s where someone’s Bud would become someone’s Thorn tomorrow.


I fell in love with our Thorn, Rose, Bud practice that trip. It also made me very aware of how each of us experiences and sees the world. Despite spending time exclusively with each other for 10 days, we each had different responses to our experiences. We each held life uniquely.


The other day I was wondering why I reserve this game for trips and I came to the conclusion that it’s because it’s meant to be shared and outside of trips, when else do you spend so much consecutive time with one person or one group of people? But perhaps it’s also something that we can hold for ourselves.


I love sharing my daily Rose. “Happiness is” will forever be the thing that changed my life in every way. But what would it look like to take a moment before bed each night to ask myself about the Thorn and the Bud. To reflect that deeply and keep it all for myself. To journal out loud. To own each part of the story.


What would you say for this day?