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A Senior Camper reading her mission statement after their banquet to her fellow Senior Camper graduates.

I want to write a short note of gratitude for two things.

First, I want to thank all the parents of our 3 week-campers that will be leaving tomorrow. You have wonderful, funny, talented, quirky kiddos who have made this a place of joy and growth.

Over the course of several weeks at camp, people burrow their way into your heart. I hope this does not sound dangerous. I intend it to simply mean that camp facilitates deep levels of connection. I am not sure if this is the result of how intense camp is (all-day, every day), the lack of technological distractions, the opportunities to grow through risk taking or the nature of the communial environment.

For whatever the reason, camp connections are deep.

I also want to express our gratitude for your confidence in us. We know how important your children are (having had four ourselves), so we take this responsibility very seriously.

Second, I want to tell you about a great camp tradition.

Last night, we had one of my favorites evenings of the summer: our banquest for the oldest Senior Campers. These are the members of our high school leadership program who have finished 11th grade and are completing their third summer in the Senior Camper program.

The banquet is quite the epicurean delight - including steaks cooked by one of the Senior Campers, Chinese food and pies from the Bluebonnet Cafe. [Note: the Senior Campers themsleves chose this unusual menu.] But the highlight followed the meal. After they ate, they came into our home and read their Mission Statements. Earlier this week, they went on a retreat and crafted mission statements about who they have been and (more importantly) who they will become. They have known for years that the program would end with this challenge.

They did not disappoint.

It is my belief that most adults live unintentional, reactive lives. We humans, however, are best when we have purpose and a “north star”of values that we hold fast to. It is deeply moving to hear raw and passionate statements from 17 year-olds and somehow know they are now ahead of many adults.

We had quotes/thoughts from Teddy Roosevelt, Lil’ Wayne, TS Elliot and the Stoics. Quite a sampling!

Major themes included:

  • honoring their parents, but also committing to the knowing that they will need to be their own persons
  • using mistakes/failures as fuel for growth
  • being kind
  • focusing on integrity over status or comfort
  • being a great spouse and parent

A night like that makes Susie Ma’am and me so much more optimistic about the young people who will be stepping up in the future.

See you tomorrow!

Steve Sir