June 8, 2016
One of my hopes with this blog is to provide you a feel for camp. Sometimes that means explaining a tradition. Sometimes I will share quotes from campers. Other times I strive to give you a glimpse of what it like to be a parent-aged “adult” at Camp Champions.
This blog will attempt to give you a glimpse into the odd, but delightful, world of camp.
Lets start with dress code. When I first worked in the world of finance, I was introduced to the world of suits (single breasted, two buttons), pressed shirts and Hermes ties (that was the rage in the early 1990’s). I remember thinking to myself that this was odd. What made us decide that an open jacket with a lapel was the “right” business look? What is the purpose of the tie? [Note: clearly, I suspect I had a few idle moments between projects – perhaps I spent a little too much time contemplating business fashion.]
I do remember thinking that I looked forward to a day when my dress code made more sense. The universe clearly has a sense of humor, because my current dress code makes my office days seem completely sane. Yes, I live in a world where I will change outfits as often as a runway model and end up dressed like you see in the picture that accompanies this blog. Susie Ma’am and I are dressed for the 1967 Dance. !967 is the year Camp Champions was founded, but it was also the time of bad hair styles. That is one bad wig (Susie Ma’am actually pulls hers off).
My “business meetings” have changed even more than my attire. Rather than gather in a conference room, I stand in front of hundreds of smiling faces and scream myself hoarse. Before the dance tonight, I made an announcement that triggered a favorite camp tradition: whenever an announcer makes a time reference, the audience responds by screaming “yes, (the same time reference)”. Imagine looking at an audience of excited and happy children and young adults, smiling and saying “Tonight” and hearing (and feeling) a wall of sound yelling “YES, TONIGHT!!” It is an odd and delightful rush. Their voices echo down the lake. We have neighbors that say how much they like hearing the joy of our campers yelling in unison.
My job has drifted from one dependent on spreadsheets to one where we occasionally need to clean “pee sheets” [note: every summer, we have several campers who still occasionally wet their bed. This is not a problem at camp as we have ways to clean the sheets without any cabin-mates knowing anything has happened.]
Our employees are different from the ones I encountered in my previous life. I love seeing the devotion of our team to their campers, our mission and to each other. To be fair, we have a few advantages that jobs in the “real world” do not have. First, it is joyful to work with campers and teach them activities and life skills. Second, counselors can see some of the impact they have on campers in real time. For example, helping a homesick camper to become happy and comfortable takes only a day or two and provides immediate joy. Finally, the job has a distinct beginning and end. Even if a counselor gets tired, he or she knows that by mid-August, it will be over.
I am regularly inspired by these 18-25 year-olds. I read a great deal about the Millennial generation and how they are often entitled and lack work ethic. I, however, do not see this. The counselors I see here deeply desire to make a difference and they work diligently - and joyfully – to help your children grow into “champions”; the best versions of themselves.
But I think the best part for me is our product: happy confident children.
So I guess dressing like a fool and losing my voice is well worth it!