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At the end of the last session, I wrote a short note about how it felt. For those of you who read it before, I apologize for the redundancy. But I want to share this with our community.

Last night, we had a magical night. Today, we said goodbye to a huge groups of kiddos that we have come to love and appreciate. I am tired, but thrilled with the session. So please forgive me if this is short.

I simply want to describe how last night felt.

When you do something long enough, you can sense the tone and emotion of a group. In my first years as a camp director, I focused on the exact details of the day. I thought about the schedule and counselor assignments. I wanted everything to happen promptly on time.

Over time, I came to understand that the goal of camp is not precision, but presense. The point is to connect with other people. Moments of connection are precious and should not be interupted capriciously. It is OK if you start Torchlight or a meal 5 minutes late if the community is gelling.

I share this becuase tonight was our awards ceremony. Frankly, it is much less an awards ceremony than a celebration of our community.

And I loved what I saw.

Our full-time team works for 40 weeks to create camp. These 10 weeks (12 if you include orientation) need to inspire enough magic moments to keep us going.

Tonight, we saw over 200 young people ranging from 6 to 24 (I am excluding the older, full-time team) share the same songs, the same chants, the same jokes and the same solemn moments.

I heard a story about how a new counselor and her cabin decided to thank the people washing dishes because she wanted her girls to know that everyone matters.

When you have 30 children 8 and under watching with rapt attention, you know it is unusual. But when 12 year-olds girls and 17 year-old boys (two of the most loquacious species on the planet) also join in the quiet moments, that is really precious.

Tonight, with the stars above us and not screens to distract us, we talked about how we have become a group with shared traditions. Older campers offered that camp was a second home and told the younger ones that they are part of the family.

We ended with a memory video, a final camp-only singing of Golden Champions and some fireworks. From this gathering, every cabin returned to their camp abode for a final “Nightly Ritual” to talk about their time together.

But I will remember seeing everyone’s faces illuminated by a small fire we lit to symbolize the flame of the Champions torch.

Thank you for letting me share that. I hope you can get a sense of how unique these moments are. It has been truly special to share this time with these precious individuals.

Steve Sir