8 Of The Most Dynamic Years Of My Life

What Camp Means to Me

I spent 8 of the most dynamic years of my life involved with camp. There were incredible highs, and incredible lows, incredible mediocrity, and incredible frustration experienced during those 8 years. Through the wild ride, swirling eddies, reflective calm points and momentary losses of control, camp has been a solid constant in my life. I would compare it to steel rebar placed into a concrete foundation. My parents gave me a good foundation for life; but, when earthquakes came, camp held me together so that my foundation did not collapse. Camp taught me so much about life. There are not enough pages to list them all, but here are some that have impacted me.

1. If you want to impress someone, you never will. The best way to succeed in life is to shut your mouth and get to work. The people, who tried the hardest to make an impact at camp, never did other than in their own minds. The people who were just genuine, and were at camp because they wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves were the ones who made the impact. The best example of this is the rise of the Backcabin Boys, and the tremendous hole we had to fill when their presence was no longer felt.

2. It’s best to fess up. When I screwed up, and I did plenty of that, it was always best to face the music and accept the consequences. Don’t make excuses, blame something, or someone else, or try to justify your actions. That just pisses people off. If you break something, ruin something, or somehow damage something, offer a solution to fix what you screwed up.

3. Always Improve. Every summer ended with an interview. My first summer, I was nervous. The directors asked me what would make camp better. I didn’t know what to tell them, but it opened my eyes to a whole different point of view. They were asking a rookie’s advice on how to improve camp. I came my second year with an open mind, and was determined to have an answer on how to improve camp. Every year after that, at my exit interview, I brought a list. They were mostly little things, but most of the things I suggested were implemented over time.

4. Take Nothing For Granted. Many things at a camp change over the course of 8 years. Other than the directors, I only worked with one person all 8 years. We always lost campers and staff to attrition. On occasion though, we lost campers and staff to tragic incidents. One of the campers I connected with one summer, fell off a cliff and died 2 weeks before she was supposed to come to camp. One of the best camp personalities of all time was killed in the offseason in a car crash. The scheduled camp nurse lost several members of his family to a car crash just a couple weeks before camp. Life is short. Live it well.

5. Adapt. During my 8 years at camp I worked in every area except crafts. I have been a boat driver, wrangler, river guide, challenge course instructor, archer, cook, server, exterminator, and counselor. I have scrubbed dishes, toilets, floors, boats, cars, windows, docks, and golf carts. I have built a challenge course, a creek, retaining walls, planters, a bath house, a tree house, and gazebo, added on to buildings, put on roofs, laid sod, stacked hay, fixed doors, cleared brush, and reclaimed the shoreline of a creek. Everyday brought a new challenge, but things can be accomplished if we’re willing to adapt.

6. Have Fun. As I look back on my life, I have never had so much fun as I had during my years at camp. Every June, I wish that I was headed to camp because it was easy to throw my worries to the curb, and embark upon a summer of absolute fun, and if I’m fortunate enough, my joy will rub off on someone else.

I find it very difficult to put into words exactly what camp means to me. Every day I find things that I do , and my thought processes to things that I learned at camp. It truly has changed my life, my perspective, and my spiritual life. Camp taught me that I can be the way I am and God will still love me. I don’t have to change to try to be perfect. Camp has become the most basic influence in my life. I cannot imagine where I’d be without the influence, love, acceptance, and challenge that I have gotten from camp. Camp is my home. Camp people are my family.

Posted on: 04/12/2010