June 21, 2016
I don’t really get social media. In fact, I am consistently impressed by people who have the energy to keep up with so many other people using constantly changing platforms. Sure, I have accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but let me assure you that I really just faking it. Campers often ask if I am “on Instagram” or “on Twitter”. When they ask, it seems like such a good idea, so I occasionally join. I, however, seem to forget that I am social-media-impaired.
So it should come as no surprise that I often go more than a month between visits to Facebook. Today was an exception. I had heard a rumor that a long-time friend had just become a director of a camp in the northeast and I wanted to use Facebook to confirm.
When I logged in, the first message was a reminder about a birthday. The birthday was for my younger brother. If you read my blog last year, you know that my brother passed away in the spring after a battle with cancer. Knowing this, you would not be surprised that I was initially taken aback.
Why was I reading a reminder for someone that was not with us?
It was then I realized that I had it wrong and Facebook has it right. JJ (my brother) is still with us. He is here every day. We tell his story to our counselors, including a speech that he shared with the counselors in 2015, 4 months after his diagnosis:
“When you learn that you may not live more than a year, it focuses you. Of course, I plan to beat this, but it has made me uniquely aware of what matters. In my case, that is time with my wife and two sons. Each day is precious. Yet, I will be sending them to camp to spend time with you this summer. Why would I do that? I do this because there are some gifts that you can give them that I cannot: independence, peer to peer connections, knowledge they can shine without me. It is hard for me, but important for them. BUT, if I am going to make this sacrifice, you need to deliver at the highest level.”
The counselors left that meeting focused and resolute.
JJ is also with me when I try to help anyone else. He was devoted to serving others and served as a regular inspiration to me. With his parting, I regularly think about ways I can “be more like JJ.”
Last summer, we also introduced the JJ Baskin Library in his honor. He had advocated for libraries his entire life and we wanted to have a place here that reminded us of him. Last year and this one, the library is simply a large bookcase behind our camp store.
Next year, it will be part of a massive Arts Center we are calling the “HeARTh” (“art” is inside it). This picture I include with this blog is one of the renderings of the Hearth. It will have over 15,000 sq feet of decking, studios, and spaces that encourage creativity. It will have a 40 foot high tower. And it will also house the JJ Baskin Library. Below is the “Perch”, part of the HeARTh.
On closing day this Saturday, we will open our doors a little earlier than normal (9 instead of 9:30) and we will have a reception for parents to visit with Susie Ma’am, a few of the directors and myself. We will also have multiple renderings of the HeARTh for you to look at. It is a massive project and will create the most elaborate arts center of any camp within 1500 miles (at least that I know of). We look forward to telling you about it.
Happy Birthday JJ.