Yesterday was our first Sunday of the second session. Now when I speak about the first few days of any session, I often talk about the fact that the tone that we set in those first few days is very important and sets the standard for the rest of the session. If yesterday was a tone setter for what the rest of our Sundays will be like, this session is going to be absolutely peerless.
Our Sunday began with a terrific Sunday Service on the topic of Changes. The presenter, a grown man and our waterskiing head, spoke to us about how change could be a scary thing, but that ultimately it was usually a good thing in that it is evidence of growth. He spoke of personal changes that he had experienced, then moved into a discussion of the ways that camp has changed over the years (while still maintaining its core principles), and finally he spoke about how each of us changes as a result of spending time at camp every summer. It was very thought provoking stuff and sparked much discussion. Sunday Services, when they work, make us walk away with some things to think about…..this talk worked.
Then, last night, we had our first Council Fire of the session. There is no secret about how I feel about Council Fires. For me, it is the absolute highlight of every week. We spend time together as an entire camp family sitting around that huge fire, watching a value-based and entertaining skit, and engaging in the exact same traditions that have taken place here for 89 summers. It is the most special time of the week. It is when all of the lofty ideals that we try to put into practice here really crystallize, and we all have our cups filled up with a full dose of optimism and altruism to get us through the week ahead. Our presentation last night addressed the concept of The Big Circle. The Big Circle, is a short story by Sam Cooke that describes how when travelling through the Boundary Waters, folks tend to look out for each other, and be kind and generous to one another. Even when they are complete strangers. The ultimate result of this is that whatever kindnesses are shared with others eventually are repaid through this concept of The Big Circle. But what I found particularly compelling is that the goal is just to be a part of The Big Circle itself. This is to say, that we are not exhibiting kindness in order to receive something at the end, rather that the goal is simply to live within The Big Circle since it is such an incredible feeling to be a part of a community that looks out for each other. There can be little doubt that here at camp we strive very hard to invite everyone into our Big Circle through our actions and welcoming behavior.
The Council Fire concludes every week with our Keylog ceremony. To be fair, expectations were fairly low for this Keylog ceremony given the fact that it was the first of the session and many of the boys have not yet learned the art of the appropriate Keylog. Having said that, I have to say that last night’s Keylog ceremony was as sweet and touching as any I have ever attended. We heard from a young camper at Nebagamon for the first time thanking his counselors for helping him through the first few days of camp when he was homesick. We heard from a grateful trip staff member that wanted to thank the boys that he had just led on a trip for making it such a wonderful experience for him. We heard from a camper who had just returned from his two week Isle Royale Big Trip who wanted to thank his counselor for encouraging him to go on the trip in the first place. He had been really scared about the experience and wanted to bail out before he left, but his counselor encouraged him to face the fear and go anyways. He said the trip was the most incredible experience of his life. We heard from a returning camper that wanted to thank his parents for the sacrifices they make in order to let him spend a month at his favorite place on earth. We heard from a many year veteran of this place thanking everyone and everything associated with this place for providing him with a second home. We heard from….we heard from….we heard from…It was a long Keylog ceremony! And a truly lovely one.
All is well in the North Woods…