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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!

Camp Weequahic sleep away camp in Pennsylvania

Dear Weequahic Families,

Hello all. I hope this note finds your family well. As promised, I wanted to give you a monthly update on our thoughts about the coming summer. As the situation continues to unfold and change daily, we still do not have any definite answers about Summer 2020. 

can tell you our year-round team has never had a busier April. We have been interviewing and hiring, planning and preparing, reading and listening. We continue to work alongside the CDC, American Camp Association, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and our friends in the Wayne County Camp Alliance to gather information, update our safety protocols and plan for a safe summer.

Decision Timeline & Suppliers

We hear recommendations will be put forth by the CDC, ACA and our local state agencies as early as this week. We have also heard this information could arrive in late May. The only common theme has been this: everyone wants camp to happen this summer, safely. We feel the same way!

We will continue to be patient, hopeful and flexible. We have spoken with CampTrucking, PackMyRx, and Amerasport and have found they are assuming the same posture. While we are happy to receive your forms now, we can also prepare everything should we receive them by mid-June.

I hope you will join us in being patient, hopeful, and flexible as we move through May. Definite plans for this summer should come into focus over the next four to five weeks. We hope to be able to offer a concrete plan – taking every possibility into account – no later than the first week of June.

Keep the GAC Going

In the meantime, we hope you will join us for some online fun at our Weequahic Families Facebook page, connect with camp friends across the world and continue to help our campers practice the values for which you chose Weequahic: showing gratitude, choosing our attitude, and building our courage.

Of course, please do not hesitate to call if you have questions. I would be happy to speak anytime. Now, more than ever, I cannot wait for camp!

Cole
Cole Kelly, Director
cole@weequahic.com • 570-798-2716

The Math We All Need

Normally, we host a campfire ‘talk’ on the blog each Friday Night. As we’ve all been cooped up, we’ve been enjoying these talks together on our Weequahic Families Facebook Page. (Please join us if you’ve not done so already!)

And, just in case you’d rather read than listen, I thought the talks should go on the blog, too. Enjoy!

A Little Math

Alright, campers. You’ve been doing online school for a while now. Let’s test your math skills.

What’s this equation? A2 + B2 = C2 . That’s right: the Pythagoreum theorem.

How about this one?  E=mc2. Yes, Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Ok, I know – too much math. I’m a camp director and didn’t do anything past calculus. (And I barely got past that!) Let’s talk about an equation that is even more useful. In fact, its the source of a LOT and LOT and LOT of people’s success. Are you ready?

E + R^p = O

E stands for ‘Event.’ By that, I mean anything that happens to you in reality OR in your head. And, when you think about it, most of the stuff that happens in our head – what we project in the future – is not nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be. 

A very wise man said the same thing a long time ago:

I am an old man and have known many troubles but most of them never happened.

Mark Twain

Events happen to you. You have very little control on them.  And, they happen to EVERYONE. Doesn’t matter if you are Beyonce, LeBron James, or Tom Brady. It could rain on your trip day. Your campfire might not light. That person you thought was going to be a friend said something really mean to you. She didn’t text you back. He didn’t treat you the way you wanted to be treated.  Your printer runs out of ink. You may win the lottery. You will probably NEVER win the lottery.

So, those are events. The big E. They happen to everyone. Now, let’s talk about the R in this formula. What do you think it is?

I’ll give you a hint: the ‘R’ in this formula is the BIGGEST, MOST IMPORTANT reason behind your success and your failure. And, it’s also the ONLY thing in this whole equation that you have TOTAL control over.

‘R’ is for Response

Do you get mad or do you get even? Do you say ‘Oh… woe is me or that’s not fair, But he…. But she…. But I didn’t do it.

It’s ok to be like this. Almost everyone is. It’s habit – a default setting you have built for yourself by doing it over and over and over again.

Or, do you choose to be different? Do you instead look at that event and say Ok…. How can I use this, learn from it or make this better?

When we arrived at Camp Weequahic 12 summers ago, I had several people who were very successful camp directors tell me ‘don’t do it.’ It’s too far gone. We only had 120 campers. The facility was not in good shape.

But we saw something different – something we could work with. A depth of tradition, an amazing set of ‘bones’ on which to build a community in which kids and staff revel and play and laugh and experience joy.

The Power of Principles

See that little ‘p’ over the ‘R?’ It’s a little thing that governs the reactions you show on a daily basis: your principles.

Now, I’m not talking about your middle or high school principal. Instead, I’m talking about a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

For example, always being honest is a principle. So are:

  • The more your focus, the more you’ll see.
  • Gratefulness causes the realization of the bounty around you.
  • Courage grows the more you use it.
  • You are the sum of all your training.  

Your reactions – whether they are mental, physical or emotional – are all governed by your principles: that system of belief that serves as a your foundation.

And they are a small thing. Speaking of small things, I’ve got a question for you. Would you rather have $1mm right now or a penny that doubles every day for a month? The $1mm is a lot of money, isn’t it? And, at first blush, I’d be you’d want to take it over that little doubling penny. But, you’d be wrong.

That small penny doubles and doubles and doubles until it’s worth $10.7mm in just 31 days.

It’s the small things that matter. It’s the principles you choose to live by that matter. Your reactions are what matter. Your parents cannot choose these for you. Neither can your teacher, your coach, your minister, your rabbi, or your camp director. We can show you and teach you and mentor you. But, ultimately, you have to choose. And you show the world the choice you’ve made through your day to day, hour to hour actions.

So the ‘E’ stands for Events, the ‘R’ stands for Response, and the ‘p’ for Principles. What does the ‘O’ stand for?

Outcome

You can’t complete control the outcome. Why? Because you cannot control the event. You can influence the heck out of it, though, by choosing the principles by which you lead your life wisely and then determining your response.

Here’s the funny thing: the outcome really doesn’t matter as much as you think it will. Think about winning something really awesome: a championship or the first place ribbon or whatever else. The shine on that trophy, the sheen on that ribbon… they wear off pretty quickly. You’ll be on to other things that captivate, motivate, and interest you very soon.

Don’t worry about the outcome much. Control what you can control: your response and the principles that guide it, and you’ll be able to tackle any event with dexterity, deftness, and determination.

Have a great week!