At Camp Weequahic, we talk a lot about ‘courage.’ It’s one of our three main values for one very good reason. To quote Maya Angelou:
Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
It’s good when you are generous and kind to a friend. It’s even more so when you treat someone you don’t know. What’s the very best? When you treat everyone that way, consistently – even those people you don’t like or feel like you shouldn’t.
Doing so takes courage. It requires us to be uncomfortable and, possibly, afraid of the consequences.
Learning a Lesson
When I was a senior in high school, I got a lead part in our three-act play. I was known at school as the preppy, conservative golfer. The young lady playing the female lead – and my character’s love interest – was a liberal, artsy, ‘rebel’ in my opinion. We both got some grief from our respective groups about having to work together. I was not happy… and neither was she.
We were neither generous nor kind to each other over the first few weeks. Then, grudgingly, we started to appreciate one another. On the final night of actual show, we stood on stage accepting the applause while holding each other closely. We had become good friends who appreciated each other, despite our differences.
I often think back and wonder how much better the play would have been had we both had the courage to be kind and generous to each other.
The Heart of Courage
The word courage is an interesting one and one that is linked very closely to the ‘Heart of Weequahic’ video we showed right before this campfire talk. The best person I know of to speak about this is Dr. Brene Brown:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”
Isn’t that great? I love how Dr. Brown drills down to the essence of things and puts these big ideas in such a way that we can apply them to our lives right now.
Ordinary courage is having the courage to speak honestly and openly about who we are and our experiences. It’s also about listening and accepting the gift of someone else doing the same.
My Heart Right Now
I’ll take a moment and speak from my heart.
These last five weeks have been the most difficult of my camping career. The uncertainty is the worst part: will the Pennsylvania Depart of Health allow us to open? What will the American Camp Association and CDC guidelines for summer camps require? How will our campers, families and staff members handle this experience and the decisions for this summer? Will we start on time, a few days or weeks late, or not at all? What will this do to our campers, our families, our staff, our camp and our full-time team?
I go through these incredible swings of emotions every day: I get a piece of news that leads me to think we are going to start on time and think this will be the most incredible summer ever. A few hours later, I get another piece of news that puts doubt into my heart.
Kate, Sue, Dana, Scrappy, Cammie, Jerry, John and I make plans, and the more plans, and then more again. Everything we are doing right now centers on two things: safety and flexibility. Thankfully, our suppliers feel the same way. Both Amerasport and CampTrucking will offer full refunds if camp doesn’t happen. The ACA is allowing medical forms to be filled out within the past 24 months. PackMyRx – our new camper medication fulfillment company – would send the medications home rather than to camp.
Will we open? I don’t know. Are we planning to open? ABSOLUTELY! Are we coming up with a ton of ‘just in case’ plans? Of course. We’ll all know more in the next three weeks. As soon as we know which plan we can put in place, I’ll let all of our families know.
One other piece of my heart to share: thank you. Speaking on behalf of the team, I’m so grateful for the support, patience and love our families and staff have shown over the past several weeks. We know y’all want camp. We know that you all know that we want camp. We are going to do everything in our power to put have us all back safely at Weequahic this summer.
Whatever happens, I know our Weequahic family will face the situation with a grateful outlook, an intentionally chosen attitude, and the ordinary courage required to share our hearts. We all love you. Be safe, patient, and hopeful. We’ll all get through this… together.