Sometimes the idea for a blog falls into your lap.
This morning, mine fell onto the ground.
As I walked to breakfast, I saw a dew-soaked piece of paper on the ground. I picked it up and carefully unfolded it. I saw the list pictured here:
"Camp C" [I am not really sure what this was trying to say.]
1. Put underwear in bag and put on swimsuit
2. Eat breakfast
3. Neat cabin [Note: I think this means “clean cabin”]
4. Water toys
5. Free Swim
6. Change at Hearth [This means change out of swimsuit in the Hearth bathroom. Hooray! One less possible swimsuit rash!]
8. Friendship games [Note: I will say more about this in the future, but this is what we call Susie Ma’am’s meetings with each girls’ cabin]
9. Lunch – change into swimsuit
This note helped me understand how wonderfully different our campers are. Clearly, this is an organized camper. Compare the camper who wrote that note to the another camper who seems to think shoes are optional virtually everywhere. I think about another camper who listened to a 3-4 minute description I gave of our 4 children (ages 22, 22, 21 and 18). [Note: a returning camper had asked me about them during a Man Cave.] After this full discussion, one of the campers looked at me and asked, “So . . . you have kids?”
I want to be clear that I am not saying any particular style is better. Conscientious children thrive in some areas while the daydreamers thrive elsewhere. All types make camp more interesting and fun.
But sometimes I just forget how differently people see and experience the world.
I find this an important reminder for the counselors. It is easy to interact with a camper that thinks the way you do. The challenge for true counselor excellence is to understand and love the camper who makes almost no sense to you.
I encourage all of us to see the campers who are different as being like exotic meals – you might not be used to it, but it makes life richer.
PS Today was survey day. Once a week, we have every camper fill out a survey to make sure they are doing well. We make sure that they can fill them out without cabinmates or counselors watching, so we make it easy to be honest. We ask if they feel safe and whether they want to talk with anyone on our leadership team. [Note: the reasons to request such an audience vary wildly from “I am still a little homesick” to “I do not think the butterflies are eating enough”. We are ready for all concerns.] We also ask them to name their favorites counselors, friends and activities. With this in mind, I would like to illustrate the importance of commas.
On one 11 year-old’s survey, he wrote the following under “Favorite Activities””
“My favorite activities are archery, water toys, hatchet-throwing petting zoo.”
Let’s briefly alter that sentence:
“My favorite activities are archery, water toys, hatchet-throwing, petting zoo.”
A single comma might be a small bit of punctuation, but it would make a huge difference if you are an animal in the petting zoo!
PPS The photo at the beginning of this blog shows the girls of Riggabamboo (our youngest full-schedule girl campers) who just received flowers from "the Real Men" (the youngest boys). I usually avoid the word "cute", but this certainly was.