Tak Talk Blog- Camp Takajo – July 16, 2017
July 16, 2017 by Jeff Konigsberg
At the end of a long day and after writing my blog article, I returned home to unexpected guests. Sitting on my front step were a bunch of the Okee campers who had been waiting patiently for me for well over an hour. Needless to say, I was a little shocked to see these Takajo campers down at my house.
I quickly inquired whether something was wrong. The boys stood up and, in unison, began singing one of the camp’s treasured songs, Come ‘Round, which begins with the verse,
Come ’round any old time
And make yourself at home.
I immediately knew where this was going, and I opened my front door and welcomed the Okees into my home. Since I have all of my meals with the campers in the dining room, I did not have much to offer. However, a cold soda, on a comfortable couch, in an air-conditioned room was all the boys desired. We sat for almost two hours and reminisced about their years at camp.
As I looked at these young men talk about their camp experiences and how close they are to one another, it almost brought tears to my eyes. The boys recalled stories about being in Warrior Camp. They recounted moments in time when they acted impulsively without following directions. The boys had regrets about those fleeting moments in time when they did not treat the camper sleeping next to them with respect and kindness.
They asked me how I felt this group would be remembered. I shared with them that the greatest legacy they can leave behind would be the example they set for the younger campers. I told these boys that the younger campers idolize them. They watch the Okees when they play competitive sports and how they carry themselves on and off the fields. I told these boys that they are each responsible for their “own brand.” How they treat others and how they conduct themselves will leave an indelible mark on all those around them.
Anyone who has ever attended sleep-away camp can think back to their childhood and remember those who treated others with kindness and those who were disrespectful and who only looked out for themselves. When former campers see fellow alumni from years past, they immediately think of that individual’s “brand” that they created as a camper. That perceived impression is long-lasting, and it can take one a very long time to overcome a negative image.
The Okees asked what they can do to help make this an exceptional summer here at Camp Takajo. I shared with them the names of a few boys who could use a pat on the back or a few words of encouragement. These Okee campers were delighted to have the opportunity to help other campers in hopes that one day, they will be sitting on my front step waiting to sing Come ‘Round and to be invited in to reminisce about their own days as campers.