I do not often get the pleasure of watching Susie Ma’am interact with campers, so I especially appreciated the chance to join her at Vespers last night.

The youngest campers were with Charlie Sir learning about the “4 R’s” (Respect, Responsibility, Reaching Out and Reasonable Risks) and having “Sunday Sundaes”.

The older boy campers (those who have finished 4thgrade and up) were cooking out in the woods and sharing stories.

So the girls and two cabins of boys came together for Vespers after having some sundaes ourselves. At Vespers, we slow down from the craziness of camp and share some time for reflection and sharing. Standing in front of a nice campfire, Susie Ma’am told an old Russian folk tale.


In the tale, a dishonorable man falls in love with a virtuous woman. Knowing that she would never fall for a cad, he chose to wear the mask of an honorable man. He then courted her for a year and won her heart. On their wedding day, he experienced an unfamiliar emotion – guilt. He suddenly realized he could not allow her to marry him.

[Note: you need to go with me on this one. I know that there are not really masks that a person can wear that make them look like an honorable man. Further, you would think she would notice a mask. One can only conclude that the inhabitants of Russian folk tales are not that observant.]

He went to her and confessed, “I cannot marry you. You see, I am truly a cad. I have won your heart wearing a mask. I must now show you my real face!”

He then took off the mask expecting her to gasp with disappointment. Instead, she simply smiled.

The face beneath the mask was the face of an honorable man.

The point of the story is that no one is “born” dishonorable or mean or rude or kind or loving. You are what you do. If you decide to be considerate or honorable and consistently act that way, you become considerate or honorable.

Susie Ma’am then asked the campers to ask what “mask” they would like to wear – what attribute they would like to grow.

Some said Reaching out while others talked about overcoming trepidations and taking Reasonable Risks. One said he wanted to use his words rather than lose his temper. One girl said she wanted to practice believing in herself.

At least 30 people shared the masks that they wanted to wear.

And I got the rare pleasure to watch Susie Ma’am delight the entire gathering.

Steve Sir