June 11, 2013
Yesterday, Susie Ma’am and I received an email from Kate Hutson, the woman who served as the Division Leader of our youngest girls last summer. She is not with us this year because she was accepted to serve in Teach for America (TFA). As you may know, TFA features a notoriously stringent selection process.
Of course, we are sad she is not with us this year, but we are delighted that many students will benefit from her commitment and skill as a youth development professional.
You may be thinking, “that is nice Steve Sir, but how is this relevant to my child at camp?”
“The similarities between camp and TFA are endless, but I won’t bore you with them. What I will tell you is that my peers (100+) have REALLY been struggling this week. There are people here from all over the country that were hand-selected to come and teach these kids that are in desperate need of some strong teachers. But guess what? I have a huge leg up on them. I have camp. The first few days of orientation, I watched as former fraternity and sorority presidents, student government leaders, non-profit organization founders, Ivy League graduates, PhD students, professors, etc. etc. struggled to feel comfortable in social situations, break the ice with the rest of the group, and in general feel socially and intellectually comfortable in a huge group of people. I found that it was exactly like camp orientation! In other words, I had a blast. It was so easy to meet people, build connections, tell my story, and work my butt off to gain some respect as a leader among the corps. Throughout the week, we participated in sessions, did community service, had small group chats, and connected with donors and community supporters (any of this sound familiar?!).
I was asked to give the speech to represent our TFA corps at the closing dinner on the last night of orientation. One of the things I said in my speech was, “There is nothing more spectacular than a group of young people working together as a team for one common cause.” Although of course I was speaking in the context of Teach For America, knowing me you both probably know that I was also speaking of camp.
Y’all always told us that camp would be better for us than any summer internship, job, or anything else we could do with our time in the summer. You told us that if we bought into it, camp would prepare us for our future in ways that would couldn’t imagine. Well, y’all were completely right. I bought in. And it was worth it. I am not only working in an environment helping children reach their full potential every day, but succeeding among my peers. Definitely not possible without camp.”
As you might imagine, an email like that inspires us to put even more effort into every day, every cabin and every camper.
Of course, the campers do not see this. They see the activities, play with their friends and hang out with their counselors. But we are always striving to find the moments that make them a little more confident, a tad more capable and a bit more resilient. And when we do this everyday, the cumulative effects are wonderfully exciting.
I am delighted to report that the campers are doing wonderfully well. The new campers are finding their “sea legs” and are learning the camp lingo and enjoying the myriad of activities. Susie and I hosted our first handful of Friendship Circle (girls) and Man Cave (boys) and were delighted to see the campers from all 6 cabins engaged and silly. [Note: I will tell you more about these cabin gatherings in a later blog, but just know it is a one hour gathering in our home with each cabin].
Meanwhile, I hope you are taking time for yourself these next weeks. If all of your children are at camp, this is a great time for nice meals and a concert/show. If you still have a child at home, it is special to enjoy a different family dynamic. Remember, we believe that we serve families, not just children - so we hope you take advantage of the time you have these weeks!