See the generations grow.
One of the best functions Facebook offers is its memories. This summer in particular, I’ve seen so many of your posts, sharing Aunt Beth’s camp pictures from the last few years. And I’ve seen my own memories pop up and it’s been so cool to see how much these kids have all grown over the years, together.
During Orientation this year, the Upper Staff held a roundtable discussion for the counselors where we were asked a simple question:
What do you hope your kids get out of this summer?
I said I hope my kids scrape their knees and they get stung by bees. That they get filthy and muddy and play in the rain. I said I hope they make life-long friends, that they develop a little more self-confidence, that they learn how to lose just as much as they learn to win.
I told the counselors how the world outside these arches is cruel and uncaring, but when we’re here, we all feel safe and free. Not only to be who we are, but to experience the magical kind of growth and community that only exists at camp.
And it really is magical.
By now, they’ve realized what I was talking about. We documented the magic all summer. In reading your comments this week of sadness and mixed emotions, I’m clearly preaching to the choir. This is a magical place.
We do a lot of cool activities and we maintain strong traditions, but the main ingredient to what has been another magical season is the people. These kids and these counselors have laughed and cried together and they’ve carried on the great community of this place that lives on and on.
Remember in-person visiting day? When everyone knows each other and it takes a half-hour to get from one end of the Circle to the other because you stop to talk to so many people? That’s what Free Swim is like for your kids. Doesn’t matter how old they are, I see it every day; little boys and girls gravitate to the older campers. They hold hands. They hang on shoulders. They make small talk. There are jokes and nicknames and stories and even a little drama from time to time.
I guarantee you, they don’t act like that in the cafeteria at school. None of us roll as deep as when we’re at camp.
There just isn’t the same sense of community outside these arches.
Yesterday morning, the Upper Inter Boys held their annual Polar Bear Plunge. A new-ish CGL tradition, the boys are surprised early in the morning with an invitation to jump in the lake. They feast on donuts when they’re done swimming, and it’s another little rite of passage when Aunt Rose surprises them late in the summer. One boy was so looking forward to getting to participate this year, we’re told he slept in a bathing suit for several nights in anticipation of the big event.
Polar Bear Plunge has now been held for so long that the oldest Senior Boys, the Phillies and Braves, remember their Plunge just a few summers ago. It’s now a shared connection between boys young and old.
The other night, at Midnight Madness, former winners who are now counselors came down to be a part of the festivities. Another shared connection.
T-shirts arrived today for some of the boys that say We are One.
The whole camp could wear those, because we really are.
And that sense of closeness, that sense of community, that sense of being safe and free and who you are just does not exist anywhere else but here.
And I think that’s why there’s so much sadness in the air.