August 3, 2011
The Silver Fox (my very wise mother) once observed that if you do something twice for a child, you have created a tradition.
I had a fun reminder of that. I have developed a habit of wearing fairly loud shirts. Love might mean never having to say you are sorry, but being a camp director means never having to apologize for your outfits.
In any event, I have certain shirts that I wear for certain occasions. I wear a tie-dyed red/blue/purple shirt for Trojan-Spartan games (I explain that you can see the battle happening in the shirt itself). I have several fish shirts for fishing night.
The picture I have included for this article is a close-up of the print on one of my favorite shirts. I wear it when we play Safari or Green Acres. In both of these games, counselors dress up as animals and campers chase them for points. This session, we decided to do “Abduction” instead, but I chose to wear the shirt anyway.
An 11 year-old boy (who is in his 6th summer at camp!?!?) came up to me and looked at the shirt confusedly.
“Steve Sir, are we having Green Acres today?”
I then realized that he had noticed for the past years the fact that my animal shirt correlated with the animal-related evening activities. OK, he certainly is more observant that the typical camper, but I am still astounded that he noticed.
I shared the story with Susie Ma’am who got a big kick out of it.
We realize that we are the keepers of a place that many families deeply love. We must always focus on making only improvements, not just changes.
Sometimes you get folks who get over-nostalgic. They will long for the “old days”. Moak Sir (bless his heart) likes to point out that in the old days things were not actually nirvana. Counselors mowed the grass with push mowers at 3 in the afternoon when we bought the camp. Now, we have 7 guys with 2 high-end riding mowers and 5 weed-eaters. In 1996, we had one 17 year old ski boat with an outboard motor that could not get a camper weighing over 150 pounds up on a slalom ski. Now we have 6 Nautique ski and wakebaord boats (5 inboard, 1 v-drive) that are all in top condition. Counselor orientation was 3 days of work with a 2 hour CPR class worked in. Now, we spend 12 days helping them understand the power of camp while also helping them fall in love with the place.
But even as I comment on the nostalgic “old school” folk, I am delighted that they are thinking about it and keeping us honest. If we want to make only improvements and not just changes, it is helpful to have folks that make sure you are doing that. Also, I love the fact that their comments come from a deep love and passion about camp. How can you not love that?