Adam's Summer Updates

Tone setting…

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 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 Engagement.  The presenter, one of our village directors, and an accomplished manager in the hospitality industry (at the ripe old age of 24!) spoke to us about the importance of engaging in every moment in which we find ourselves.  He spoke particularly of challenging moments and shared with us stories from his professional career.  He then brought these stories into our camp world and implored us to take advantage of every moment that camp throws at us, whether they be the challenging ones or the joyful ones, and make sure that we are fully engaged in those moments.  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 91 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 with which to approach the week ahead.  Our presentation last night addressed the concept of Deliberate Practice – most skills that we learn are the result of our taking deliberate steps to learn them.  We enjoyed a skit about how learning concrete skills, like camping skills and fire building, require that we take the time and energy to actually practice and focus on those skills.  He then went on to show us how this philosophy is also important when it comes to less concrete skills as well.  We learned that even things like standing up for yourself and your principles requires practice and effort.  And that being thoughtful and responsive (rather than reactive) in our speech necessitates our being very conscious of our words…and that sometimes it’s better to remain silent for a bit, to practice finding the right responses, rather than spit out the first thing that comes to mind in a situation.  The implications of these ideas to our camp lives was explained and illustrated beautifully.

The lessons that we share in our Council Fires and Sunday Services really serve as the ideological backbones for so much that we try to do here at camp to create the most healthy community we can, and to foster the most individual growth possible for our campers. Amazing stuff…

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 camper who had just returned from his two-week Isle Royale Big Trip (they had actually returned minutes before the Council Fire and the smell was proof!) 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 a boy that had been at camp for a grand total of five days of his life who said “This keylog is for this beautiful place, filled with beautiful people, and a beautiful spirit.” (He is 9 years old!)  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…