These are the salad days of summer at Nebagamon. About a week into the second session, everyone seems to really hit their stride. Things just feel as they should around here.
It is the time of the summer when our staff, who have been refining their skills throughout the summer, are talented enough to deal with just about any curveball that is thrown at them. They can handle boys with frayed nerves, boys that want to push limits and need to be reigned in, boys that are missing home, boys that are struggling with success and failure in competition, boys that need to be reminded about which are safe and healthy choices and which are not, and boys that just want to play and have fun at summer camp. The staff’s bags of tricks are large and diverse. The staff have become incredibly skilled and creative, and remain as energetic as that first day when the kids arrived. In short, they get it. They know why they are here and they embrace it.
It is the time of the summer when our administrative staff, a group of caring adults (most of whom are parents themselves), fully understand their roles. They are the folks who are responsible for mentoring our counselors as well as ensuring our campers have several sets of parental eyes on them….watching over their physical, social and emotional wellbeing…..because parents just see things that others can’t. In short, they get it. They know why they are here and they embrace it.
It is the time of the summer when our eight week campers are so comfortable with their lives here that you genuinely would have thought that this was their only home on the planet…that they had lived here since infancy. They walk leisurely from activity to activity, stopping to check out a fuzzy caterpillar, or to chat with just about everyone they see. They exude an aura of utter comfort….they are completely at home here. In short, they get it. They know why they are here and they embrace it.
It is the time of the summer when our second four week campers have, in almost all cases, moved past their adjustment struggles and have realized how much fun their time here is…and is going to be. They have tried out enough project periods that they have figured out which ones are likely to get the main focus of their attention. They have heard the inside jokes, that are a hallmark of any summer camp experience, enough times to understand them…and laugh along. They have heard the camp songs enough times to sing them with everyone else. They have been welcomed into the camp family to such an extent that they are beginning to truly believe that they have just gained 300 new family members. In short, they get it. They know why they are here and they embrace it.
For me, these are salad days too. I get a chance to watch all of these groups living up to all of the potential that I had hoped (and in virtually all cases knew) that they had inside of them. I get a chance to puff up with pride as I watch my camp family grow and thrive. I get a chance to wander the grounds of camp on a perfectly sunny and beautiful day like today and hang out with my family…..all 300 of them. As with any family, as a parent of that family, spending time with that family affords me MANY different opportunities. Spending time as a parent of that family includes nurturing and growth spurring moments, touching moments, moments of concern, moments that require the imposition of discipline, moments when I feel the weight of responsibility so heavy that it gives me pause (parents ALL know this feeling), and moments that allow me to laugh and play in ways that I simply would never be able to do without my family. In short, I get it. I know why I am here and I embrace it.
But, of course, the best part of being a parent of this family is that we have a staff of 15 who save me from having to deal with the eternal question…..What should I make for dinner?
All is well in the North Woods…