Archive for June, 2019

The Courage to Connect

Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by

It’s the final Friday Night before the kiddos arrive and I’m excited.

We’ve enjoyed a wonderful day of Orientation. The vibe among the staff is energetic and interested, engaged and excited. They’ve taken the stunning amount of ‘liquid sunshine’ we’ve received over the past four weeks in stride and sloshed their way to knowing Weequahic.

Like the staff, I can’t wait for the sun to shine when our campers arrive!

I spent some time with just the guys on camp this evening. Kate was with the ladies. It’s the only night orientation that we divide this way.

While the activities and conversation differed between the two groups, the message was the same: will you, the counselors, show the courage needed to connect? Will you connect with one another? And, will you show the courage to truly connect with the kids?

(Leaving the huddle, I know our young men are ready, willing and able!)

Our Need to Connect

When you strip everything away, it’s connection that we crave, isn’t it? I know that is what our new campers want to start right now. They just want to find a friend. And our returners come back for one reason: to rekindle the connections they love so much.

At camp, we remove all the barriers and do our best to connect. We drop our masks. We let our true and best selves shine through. We remember who we are and those around us join in on the party of that knowledge.

We talk about the summer burning brightly at Weequahic. The light of camp, though, does not come from the Friday night campfire by Sly Lake. It comes from the light of connection created between the 650 souls who run through our forests, sleep in our bunks, and play… together.

Soon…

We are excited to get the rest of our crew here. We’ve got two pieces of the puzzle so far – the place and the staff. We just need the kids.

But, before our campers arrive, I’ve just one question for them: Will you show the courage to connect?

See you seven sleeps.  Can’t wait for camp!

Butterflies

Posted Friday, June 14th, 2019 by

At some point over the next two weeks, many of our first time campers wake up around this time and think, “wait a second – I’m really going to camp!”

This thought is normally accompanied by two seemingly opposite feelings – pure excitement and a lots of butterflies in the stomach. Both are completely natural and normal. To be honest, I’d be surprised if our newest campers didn’t feel the butterflies!

Here’s a truth moment for you: when the calendar hits June 1, I wake up each morning feeling the same. In fact, the morning the kids are about to arrive, the butterflies in my stomach are big enough to get me airborne!

After co-leading camp for 18 years, I have come to realize those butterflies I feel is just my body saying ‘Ok, you are getting ready to do something pretty amazing and a little bit unknown. Let’s get ready.”

When the butterflies flutter for our campers, they aren’t thinking about buses, bunk maintenance, and 325 sets of parents. No, they are normally thinking about one of the following:

  1. “I don’t know anyone at camp. Will the kids be nice and want to be friends?“
  2. “What will my counselors be like?”
  3. “How will I know where to go?”
  4. “I’m going to miss my parents!”

Here is how I would answer those questions:

Yes, it’s a little daunting coming to a new place and not knowing anyone. WAY TO GO! That courage is the first step in expanding your world in all the right ways. Our campers and staff are super friendly and only want to make new friends. Most of our kids don’t know anyone when they first get to camp. It’ll take you about 15 seconds to make a new friend if you are open to it and about 30 seconds if you are not as open. Because…

Our staff members are amazing. The come to camp because they want to help our campers have an amazing experience and live whole our values of Gratitude, Attitude and Courage. You’ll hear a few interesting dialects as about 1/3rd of our staff come from places like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand,  Mexico and Texas. Lots of different places!

As soon as you arrive, you are going to meet your bunk counselors, go through a quick checkin and get some lunch. Then, you are off to the bunk and then you start running around camp with your bunkmates and counselors. It’s a 2 minute walk from the flagpole (the center of camp) to the beach or a 1.5 minute walk to the driving range. That’s the whole camp – it’s super easy to get around.

Finally, let’s talk about missing home. You will miss home… and THAT’S OK! I’ve visited almost everyone of our new campers families in their homes and I totally understand missing them. (To be honest, I miss my kitchen and bed at home from time to time during the summer, too!)

The good news is you’ll be having so much fun that, given a bit of time, you’ll be so overcome with camp joy that it will drown out those missing home moments.

So, for our new campers, deep breath – those butterflies are just saying you are about to do something awesome. It’s going to be an amazing summer and we can’t wait to get you to camp! See you soon!

 

 

 

Smaller

Posted Friday, June 7th, 2019 by

There was a time not too long ago when people would look at what we can do with the phones in our pockets and not think: ‘wow… you’ve got superpowers.’ It’s so ubiquitous now that we hardly think about it.

Want to know batting average of your favorite Boston Red Sox player? It’s a few taps away. Want to call someone in Africa? Easy. Want food or diapers delivered? Done.

Not to be forgotten, we’ve got real time information coming out of the TV, the radio, the newspapers, and more. This information deluge allows us to the see the larger world out there in real time. This is a superpower.

But does it make us better?

Superpowers and Focus

There is a wonderful scene in the Man of Steel when young Clark Kent’s amazing powers start to show themselves.

He’s seated in his 5th grade classroom. All of the sudden, the clock’s second hand is booming in his ears. He can see through the teacher. The scrape of a pencil sounds like bombs going off.

After being bombarded by too much input, the young Superman runs out and locks himself in a hallway closet. He’s desperate to get away from all of the other kids and adults.

The teacher, not able to get him out, calls his mom to come help. While listening to all the other kids whisper and being mean, he also hears his mom ask, “Clark, what’s wrong? Let me help.”

“The world is too big, Mom,” Clark responds.

“Then make it smaller. Just focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island… [and] swim toward it.”

Make it Smaller

I love that idea.

As an adult, I have a hard time grasping all of the information coming my way and fighting the ‘rabbit holes’ strewn about my phone and laptop. I’ve worked intentionally to set up habits and systems to combat the pull of the information deluge.  And, it works… most of the time.

Our kids? Their brains and emotions and bodies are not ready for this onslaught. Yes, they’ve grown up with the tech. Yes, they can push the buttons faster than we adults can think.

But their brains and the deep drives that have been cultivated over thousands and thousands of years have not changed in the last generation. ‘Fight or flight’ is still a real thing.  And, social media exacerbates it to no end.

The answer, to me, is to make our world smaller. Rather than thinking about what someone is doing in Europe, spend some time thinking about the person next to you. Rather than reading the news about what happened 10,000 miles away from you, be truly present where your feet are.

I’m not suggesting to go Amish (though there is a lot to be said for that way of life.) What I’m suggesting is that we need to start focusing more on those around us rather than those who capture our attention online. We need to spend more time in our narrow circle rather than trying to take it all in from the whole world.

Smaller At Camp

That’s one of the beauties of camp, isn’t it? We get to focus on the here, the now, and the people around us. No distractions, no phones… just fun and friends and new experiences.

We aren’t thinking about what those other people said or think or believe. There is too much going on in the bunk, in the division, in the camp. When we fall asleep, we can hear our friends softly snoring, moving around in the bunk above or next to us. We know the counselor is there to help, no matter what.

There is safety in smaller. There is comfort, too. Camp is the respite for the busy, connected world. It’s the step backward required to leap forward.

That’s the paradox, isn’t it? In order to fulfill our potential in the larger world, we’ve got to begin with a small base in which we become our best selves. We must find a place, the place which allows us to flourish. And that, boys and girls, is camp.

We can’t wait to get smaller. See you soon.