2020 Final Campfire

It has rained every day at our house since we put the announcement out to cancel Summer 2020. I wish I could make this stuff up. It was raining at camp on Thursday, too. It seems like Mother Nature wants to console our feelings with her waters and, to some point, mask our tears.

As I said in the video, we need to grieve this loss. We need to be sad and talk about it when we are ready. I’m sad for the first time campers and their families – this is certainly not the experience we wanted for you all. We are all sad for the kids who love their summers at Weequahic more than anything else. I’m sad for the staff who have planned, many for 10 months, to get to camp. I’m even sad for our local ice cream spots, Scoops and Jerichos, and our friends at the Villa Como who serve some of the best pizza on the east coast!

I received this note yesterday from one of our alums:

I thought about how I would feel reading your cancellation note, if I had spent the past 10 months eagerly awaiting my return to the best place on earth, as I did when I was a camper. Since my amazing CIT and final summer, whenever June rolls around I often find myself thinking about what those kids must be feeling as they make the journey to camp, and I remember that amazing feeling of nervous excitement and energy as that famous sign on Woods Road grew closer and closer in sight. I know and trust that 2021 will be the greatest Weequahic summer to date, and that you, Kate and the whole team will work so hard over the coming year to make sure that becomes a reality. Till then I hope you guys can survive with no opening day, no Friday night campfires, no Tribals, no taps at HQB, no gaga, no canteen, no Color War, no turning and facing the lake.

Yes, Ben, we will survive. In fact, we are going to learn to thrive through this situation. Life is not about avoiding the storms. Life is about dancing in the rain.

Dancing Between Mountain Tops

Well, it’s raining right now. And that’s ok. Life is not a constant string of successes. In fact, we’ve seen it’s not that great for people to only succeed. Growth can only come from facing new challenges and overcoming them.

Kate reminded me of something a little while ago. We all talk about getting to the top of the mountain. It’s a great anaology – we look up to these majestic peaks, some dappled in snow. We are striving and working to get to the top.

Have you ever been on the top of a mountain? I have and let me tell you – there’s a great view and nothing but dirt and rocks. Nothing grows on the top of a mountain. And, it’s normally not big enough for lots of friends.

The richest place for growth is down in the valley. We have slid down the last wonderful mountain we’ve climbed and found ourselves in the darkest valley yet. Two things will help learn our way out of this valley: our friends and our values.

How will we stay connected while separated by miles and miles? Well, we thought we’d hold some bunk zoom calls, a few more digital campfires, a letter writing campaign, and fun online tutorials from our amazing Weequahic staff. I’m sure a few of the guys and the girls will find each other on Fortnite. I implore you all to be kind and welcoming to all of the Weequahic family online. It’s easy to be mean or cut people off. However, we are all worthy of love and attention. Let the values we talk about so often at camp shine through when interacting with your friends.

Gratitude, Attitude and Courage

Speaking of our values, I want to touch on each one:

For what will you be grateful for at the end of this very strange and suddenly wide-open summer. I’ve been asking myself that question for several days in the hopes of pulling my spirits up. I hadn’t planned to have a ‘summer off’ until I retired from camping, many, many years in the future. And, while I’ll be heading up to camp often, I won’t be there all summer.

So, no matter the circumstances, I want my future self to be grateful to have made the most of it.

What’s the best way to accomplish that goal? To intentionally pick the right attitude. For me, that’s to see this summer as an opportunity. It’s the not the opportunity I had planned for. It’s not the one that Cammie, Sue, Dana, Scrappy, Kate, John and I have been working towards since last August. And, it’s the opportunity that we have. We can either treat as such or waste the time away feeling frustrated and sorry for ourselves.

This is going to hurt for a little while longer. It’ll on those special days: June 18th when all the staff were to be at camp. June 27th when our Tribal and Super Six kids were supposed to arrive. Visiting Day when I get to see so many friends be so happy to see their children. July 20th when we were set to welcome our Olympic kiddos. And August 8th when we would start to say our good byes.

But, if it doesn’t hurt, that would mean it doesn’t matter that much. We all know it does. And, we all know this: the summer must go on. We must do all we can to make the most of it.

And what will that take? Courage. Courage is the handle for which every value is used. You can’t be grateful without showing courage to choose. We can pick a great attitude in the face of a challenging situation without courage. You can’t build new friendships, learn new skills, approach an uncertain time effectively without courage.

As we know, courage is like a muscle – the more you us exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Weequahic family, it’s time to work out!

Going Forward

I want to end with some words one of our CITs shared with me yesterday.

It has been nearly six years since you came to my house and sold me on the wonders of camp. It was your presence that led me to Camp Weequahic and that may have been the best spill of luck I could ever receive. Camp has grown me into the person I am today, and I am extremely grateful for that.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about all of my experiences and what I will take from Weequahic. While it is hard to do, I see this pandemic as a time for me to take the values and relations I have developed at camp into the world. Without a doubt, I have noticed a more positive attitude and more courage in response to the challenges that we are all facing together.

As we move forward together, let’s remember a few things.

First, face these next several months with Gratitude, an intentionally chosen Attitude, and ever-growing Courage. Be kind to one another (and yourself.)

While we are blowing out the candle of Summer 2020, we are also lighting a spark for Summer 2021. Let’s work together to fan that spark into a flame the whole world will see!

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