Camp could not have a better vibe to it these days. It is difficult to put your finger on the exact reason for this great energy, but there is no denying that it exists. It could be that, by now, cabin groups and friendships have gelled to such a degree that there is little else exuded besides these positive feelings. It could be that all of the special events and activities these days have really created such a great energy that the boys have had no choice but to catch the wave. Or it could be that the boys have begun to realize that the end is drawing near, and that they have committed themselves to milking as much fun out of their limited time here as possible.
This is the typical rhythm of things towards the end of the summer. With about a week to go, the general tone around here seems to really elevated. As I mentioned before, this has a great deal to do with the fact that things are going so well, but I have also come to believe that this is in part due to the amazing human ability to live in a state of denial (insert climate change joke here). I guess I believe that the boys somehow convince themselves that if they scream loud enough, sing loud enough, run around intensely enough, and play hard enough, that they can somehow deny the reality that in just five days, screaming will be against the rules, singing at the dinner table will not quite fly, and running around….well that is just out of bounds at home! Now, don’t get me wrong, certainly there are many that are looking forward to getting home, sleeping in their own beds, not having to sweep under the table after meals, not having to check their bodies for ticks on a nightly basis, and, of course, seeing their parents again. But, we are here now….and this is really fun….and leaving is something that we are not ready to contemplate. So, we put it off and pretend like the end is nowhere in sight.
And so it was that we had an absolutely perfect day of camp yesterday. It was not a special day, just a regular plain old Sunday….if there is such a thing. But, it was a perfect afternoon for me to take a walk around camp and soak it all in (and, yes, to bask in my own glory!). I take these walks around camp often. But the ones toward the end of the summer are particularly fun. This is the time when I don’t need to cast such a critical eye on everything that I see. I don’t have to stress about the new staff at the climbing wall. I don’t have to critique the tennis staff’s teaching style. I don’t need to worry about whether the athletics staff is enforcing the no flip flops rule. This is the time when I can just wander and admire camp. Most of all, I just watch the boys. At this point in the year, camp, the land that is, is truly theirs. They feel completely at ease here…it is their home. You see it in how they walk around.
To be clear, they each walk around in their own way, which is how I know that they feel so at ease here. There are many different styles to the way that they walk around. There are those that absolutely sprint from activity to activity. They cannot possibly imagine wasting even one second of their time here and attack each moment with a reckless abandon. There is simply too much going on at camp, and they have to make sure that they take advantage of it all. To them, there are simply not enough seconds in the day. They need for things to happen….and happen RIGHT NOW!
Then there are the other kids, the ones who lazily make their way from place to place. Those that are walking with another boy or boys, wander slowly, and talk about everything from who they think will win the World Series, to what they thought about the chocolate cream pie that we had for dessert last night, to who they figure will win the all-important staff Horse-N-Goggle tournament (which is basically a 130 person rock-paper-scissors tournament that pits staff members against each other….and rivets the entire camp! What can I say…..this is Camp Nebagamon!!!) Sometimes the conversations are quiet and calm, and others are heated and animated (the kid that was lamenting my untimely first round defeat in the Horse-N-Goggle tournament was particularly animated!).
Then there are the boys that are out walking on their own. Those that walk lazily around by themselves are perhaps the most interesting to watch. Sometimes they walk as though they know where they are going, and at other times, they just seem to be walking for the sake of walking. They wander around as though they have no idea where they are going, and, more than likely, they do not care. They may stop to watch a field hockey game, or to look at a goofy camp sign, or to admire a big beetle crawling in the dirt.
Finally, there are the skippers. I have to admit, I cannot remember the last time I skipped. It is something that we adults leave behind as a part of our childhood. I admit, I am no exception to this. But, boy-o-boy (an expression that only camp directors get to use!), to watch a kid skip when he is in transit from one place to another is a GREAT sight. To me, skipping is one of the most unselfconscious and pure expressions of happiness and comfort that exists. I have been sitting here for a few minutes trying to come up with the right words to describe the way it makes me feel to see a boy skipping through this place, and have completely failed to find the words. All I can say is that those skippers send off something that makes everyone around them stop, notice, smile…and envy.
All is well in the North Woods…