August 9, 2011
Susie Ma’am and I often have our friends ask us “what is the best part of running a camp?”
The short answer is the role models here. Our children have grown up with people like Leah Ma’am, Garcia Ma’am, Shirley Sir, Moak Sir, Robbie Sir and all the wonderful counselors. As a result, they think the world is full of interesting and caring people. Even when they meet someone that might not seem that nice, they give them the benefit of the doubt - even expecting them to be nicer. As a result, often times not-so-nice people become nicer.
I think this is a wonderful gift.
That is the short answer. There are so many things that we love, so I started a list. Here is an assortment of “Things Steve Sir Loves About Camp”. I have been working on this list all summer. Here is the latest version.
You are never “just” good at camp. We tell the campers that “good is the other side of the spur.” Here we start with great and go from there.
Watching your children play and grow each year. Getting a chance to be part of their lives.
Camp friends are friends forever.
The belief that “corn dog day” should be a national holiday. Some foods inexplicably achieve rarified status. The CC corn dog is such a food. The girls also venerate lemons and powder sugar.
Watching Batter Up campers decorate cupcakes in an Iron Chef format. Having a boy create a battlefield on his cupcake and place Gummy Bears on the field (the bears lost to the giant mouth). Being glad that I am not the one to clean up after the Batter Up campers decorate cupcakes.
Having a Camp Luau next to the lake.
Flag Raising combines respect for our nation with a myriad assortment of random facts. We have “Take Flight” with Activity Director (and airline analyst) Robbie Sir who is teaching us about narrow body and wide body planes. We have “obscure sports” with Jeff Sir and “Frozen Fact” with Mac Sir. All useless, all delightful.
You can eat a cupcake baked inside an orange.
7 year olds and 16 year olds learn each others’ names, talk to each other and share smiles.
Seeing homesick campers overcome sadness, learn to appreciate camp and know they are loved.
Smiling when your face goes into a birthday cake. Later noticing that all the cake is happily eaten - even those parts that received the aforementioned face.
Dressing like a fool is a badge of honor.
Dances are shared silliness more than social events.
The look on a camper’s face after reaching the top of the wall and overcoming a fear.
Watching 30+ 5-7 years olds eating a 6 foot ice cream sundae out of a newly purchased rain gutter.
Seeing 12 year-old girls attacked by a case of the giggles.
Watching a camper from another country improve his or her English and seeing the cabinmates patiently help.
Trojan/Spartan leaders “painting up”. This has become a true act of commitment and love. The designs can be elaborate - I am sure you saw them in the Trojan/Spartan photos.
Strange camp nicknames. Some that come to mind include Beat Box Sir, Craw Ma’am, Delicious Sir, K-Rob Ma’am, Cowboy Sir, Silagy Ma’am, and Tug Sir.
Having both a Shirley Ma’am and a Shirley Sir and not finding it strange.
Debating how to make the best peanut butter sandwich. I tell the campers to free themselves from the bonds of 2 slices of bread (that is the sandwich the Bread Man WANTS you to eat), and instead embrace the elegance of the single slice “foldover”. I love that this can be a 5 minute debate.
Working with Susie Ma’am.
Seeing teens absolutely devoid of phones and knowing that they are text-free. Having them thank us for liberating them from the drama of teen life.
Hearing “Steve Sir” screamed across a field and seeing a sea of waving hands.
Wearing a tuxedo with a kilt for the T-Bine Club (our special meal honoring the 8th grade campers).
Seeing the solemn acceptance from Fenway (the Camp Basset Hound) when we dress her up for a dance.
Watching Fenway lethargically stroll around a Friendship Circle and then snatching a Dorito from with extreme speed. Hearing the squeals that follow this display.
Letting 8 year-olds guess my age. I am somewhere between 32 and 83. Today, a group of 8 year-olds told me that I did not look even 30, but yesterday a cabin of 9 year olds used language that suggested that I am moments from expiration. Not sure how to interpret this.
Getting to hear great stories at Man Cave. Not sure what to believe (I am pretty sure that none of you actually have a pet dolphin. I am SURE that four of you do not).
Switching gears between the silly to the sublime. We can joke all day long and then become solemn in time for vespers. By the way, any event acquires extra gravitas when you add tiki torches!
Camper and counselor smiles.
Knowing that campers will return home more confident and capable.
In short, there is a LOT to love about Camp.