“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
If you are of a certain age, you may remember this quote from Le Petit Prince. I struggled mightily through that short book under the watchful eyes of Monsieur Mencin, my high school French teacher. I’ll admit, I didn’t enjoy the book at that point.
Having re-read it since (in English), my opinion has changed. It’s a lovely book.
The quote above was brought to my attention by a podcast series I’ve been enjoying about Mr. Fred Rogers, Finding Fred. It turns out the quote above was one Mr. Rogers went back to often. It’s easy to tell why.
What’s Essential at Camp?
During the off-season, we spend a lot of time thinking about the physical property of Weequahic. What do we need to do to keep the buildings and grounds safe? How can we improve their look? Are there program areas or bunks or boats that we need to add or change? Where do we need to re-grow or fertilize the grass?
In other words, we focus on what is visible, the outward appearance and offering of Weequahic. Are these essential aspects of a thriving camp?
In a word, ‘No.’
We’ve said for many years that you can enjoy a great camp in a parking lot if you have the right people. But it’s not really just the people, is it? It’s actually the community which they build together, the feeling of togetherness they create.
It’s all the things invisible to the eye that matter most.
Commitment to treating each person with care. Connecting the campers to each other in all the positive ways. Assuming the mission of the community into yourself and transmitting it to those around you through your actions. Taking the values to heart and living them out.
We can’t see the invisible bonds of connection and kinship our campers develop and enjoy with each other and the team. No one can see what drives the intention of the leaders. You can’t see the clean air, the welcoming attitude, or the courage our kids (and staff) develop.
But all of these things are always at camp. When you are there, you’ll know it… as soon as you let your heart ‘see.’