Each session, we honor our oldest normal campers (those just finishing 8th grade) with a special meal. It has green bean casserole, garlic breadsticks, potatoes, a special cake and t-bone steaks. We call them the “T-Bone Club”. [Note: we have options for vegetarians as well, but we named the event roughly 2 decades ago, before we had many different dietary needs. The options are wider, but the name stuck.]
We toast them with bubbly grape juice to celebrate their last weeks as normal campers.
We also all dress up for the event. It is nice to see our campers looking sharp and clean. For reasons that make no sense to anyone, I wear a kilt. It just seems to add a little flair. We are all wearing our formal masks. [OK, there is no such thing as a formal mask. Frankly, I wish I had a mask with a Scottish plaid – perhaps I need to surf Etsy . . .]
As I was walking by Girls Cabin 1, I asked them how they were doing.
“I love this meal. I wish we could have this again.”
This opinion drew much agreement, but so did the next one.
“Ugh. I cannot believe I am about to become a Senior Camper. I wish I were just a Mini again.”
This comment is not something that I typically hear. Normally, the T-Bone Club will ask questions about next summer or just talk about how cool it is to hang out on the Maxi (or Aquanaut) Gazebo. The usually celebrate the privileges of age and tenure.
But this young woman was (playfully) yearning to be a 3rd grader again and found broad support. I want to be clear, she was not bemoaning her station in life or seeming inhibitory. But I did sense a slight longing for simplicity. Life is less simple this year than previous ones. In fact, it can be truly hard.
As I mull over her comment, I find myself thinking about the messages we will want to share with all the campers over the next few days. Here is what I am thinking:
- Life these days is different, but you’ve got this. While at camp, you have practiced being different AND joyful. You can bring gift that home.
- Some of your friends may struggle with all this change. We hope that you will be the rock that they hold onto, the compass that gives them direction.
- We are all citizens and need to take care of others. Young people are fortunate during this pandemic since it rarely has serious health consequences for them. But it is very scary for our more vulnerable neighbors. We must take responsibility to think about them when we live our lives. [Note: I use the word “we” a lot. Usually, this makes sense, but I am not sure I can honestly say “we are young” without being slightly self-conscious.]
Of course, I could be overthinking this. Heck, part of me wants to be a 3rd grader again.
I guess the greatest gift would be to have the joy of the 3rd grader and the strength of a mature adult - all wrapped in a blanket of kindness.
Yeah, I’m good with that.
Here’s to the T-Bone Club!