July 6, 2011
Feeling Hot - Must Be Neon Fever!
Please look at this picture. Now realize that the three women on the right (Leah Ma’am, Garcia Ma’am and Susie Ma’am) work here full time. You know what that means. You are looking at their business attire!
When Susie Ma’am and I talk to our friends from business school, I struggle to describe our lives. How do you explain to a surgeon that you spend 3 hours arguing about dance themes? What can I say to consultant to explain the importance of finding the RIGHT neon outfit?
I think Camp seems the most odd (and spectacular) at a dance night. All the campers are packed into the Coliseum dressed for the dance. On a dance like this one (Neon Fever), the outfits are uber-bright. Looking into the crowd, I see the campers all smiling at each other in their costumes. When I scream “Ladies and Gentlemen, TONIGHT!”, the entire collective mass screams back “YES, TONIGHT!!!” The force of the collective hollering is palpable.
The campers are excited to be here.
I wish each of you had a chance to see this. When I see everyone seated, I see individual campers who we all know and love. We know their stories, their hometowns and how they feel about their cabins.
But when they unite in voice and tradition, I do not see individuals. Instead, I feel our community. We have shared jokes, cheers and songs. The campers feel part of a place that loves and accepts each of them, and they embrace it as well.
First term, I had a camper tell me that dances helped his confidence. He said this “dressing like a fool and breaking out terrible dance moves” helped him feel comfortable in unusual circumstances. I like that.
For you parents that are wishing you were here, I have a suggestion. Go to Wal-Mart and buy some of the neon highway construction vest and neon gloves. Wear them to work. Here is the key - do not (under any circumstances) act as if anything is amiss. If they ask what you are wearing, say “I have a fever and the only prescription is a little neon”.
Who knows, you might start a trend. If you do, I promise to wear a suit here for a day!
Today we met with the oldest Senior Campers (those just finishing the 11thgrade). They will be going on a 3 day retreat to the Davis Mountains during which they write a mission statement.
As they sat down, I looked at their faces. Three were in their third session with us. The remaining 16 average over 7 summers each (one is in his 12!!).
I remember them as Rookies and Minis. I remember when they were homesick and unsure of camp.
Soon I will be writing letters of recommendation for their college applications.
As I saw this sea of faces and thought about their 115ish summers at camp, I shared this thought: you have six days at Camp Champions as a camper. Three will be spent on the retreat. Closing day is just a half day. They have been here around 150 days each, and they are down to their last 6.
They were not overly dramatic. Instead, a light air of nostalgia filled the room. They talked about cabins and counselors that they cherish. They said that they loved being respected by the campers and getting a chance to “give back” to them. In fact, one said that he felt such a gratitude to her best counselors and that she wants to honor them by doing just as well with the campers she interacts with.
On Monday they will leave for their retreat. They will return with mission statements about their lives. I cannot wait to hear what they share.
Man Cave Comment
During Man Cave today, I had a group of 10 year-old boys. An unusually large number of them (4) had attended previous camp. I asked them to share their thoughts on the difference. All four said that they liked Camp Champions best. Of course, I am aware of the fact that they on in my home and getting munchies, so I suspect that no one would say anything different, but it is still nice to hear.
When I asked them why they liked it here, the first two pointed out the things I expect a 10 year-old to love: water slides, ski boats, climbing wall.
The next answer surprised me. “Everyone knows who I am and they seem happy to see me. Even the LeadershipTeam knows me and likes me. I like that.”
Music to my ears. This is what we strive for, but we usually do not expect a 10 year-old to notice. The fact that this was the thing he noticed the most made my day!