We woke up this morning to the kind of weather that makes you smile and want to hop out of bed. Bright sunshine and cool temperatures, today brought perfect weather for our boys at Camp Takajo. Over the last few days, I have mentioned a lot about the inter-camp schedule and some of the memorable moments our boys have had on the playing fields.
This morning, our Okees had another treat when they were allowed to sleep in past reveille and were awakened to a home cooked breakfast out on the Senior Quad prepared by their group leader, Paddy Mohan. Paddy is famous for his bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, and our groggy older boys stumbled out of bed and hovered around the grill as they watched him prepare a breakfast fit for a king. After their bellies were full, our Okees boarded a bus and headed to Fun Town Splash Town for an enjoyable day at the water park followed by dinner and a movie before returning back to camp.
Our Intermediate (13-year-old) boys boarded a bus to Old Orchard Beach, a seaside town with an amusement park that is one of our boys’ favorite getaways. Our Inters enjoyed going on the rides, eating pizza on the boardwalk and hanging out on the beach. Sometimes it is the little moments that create the biggest memories. For example, our Crows (youngest campers) made s’mores over a campfire and slept in our tree houses. Our Junior Green campers challenged their older counterparts, the Junior Greys, to a baseball challenge in front of a packed crowd. With each experience our boys collect, their roots are grounded deeper into the foundation of our camp.
The other night, I was on the back side of our campus near the climbing wall when I heard the sound of tattoo. A hundred yards in front of me, I noticed Warrior Group Leader Hank Fortin, who is here for his 48th consecutive summer at Takajo. Hank arrived as a young man teaching baseball to our senior campers. As a school teacher, he had his summer free so he made Takajo his summer home. He later married his wife, Jane, and together they have cared for our youngest campers. I have always had incredible respect and admiration for Hank, not just for his loyalty and commitment to Takajo but because of the example he sets as a husband and as a father.
As the sound of tattoo echoed across campus, I noticed that Hank paused and stood at attention by bowing his head and taking a private moment to reflect. I am not sure what Hank was thinking about but I marveled at the fact that here he was alone on the back side of campus after 48 summers of camp, and he still pauses to take a moment to honor the bugle call and reflect on his day. I didn’t think much more about that moment until this evening when tattoo was played. This time, I was at the center of the campus, standing outside a few bunks of Junior campers.
As this beautiful sound played, I noticed the counselors and campers in one bunk laying on their beds and ignoring the meaning behind this bugle call. For those of us in camp, this call represents the end of a day, and it’s a moment of reflection. It is a time to give thanks for the opportunities that we have, reflect on those we love and miss and think about the importance of what we contributed to the day. As one might suspect, these boys and their counselors were a little startled when I opened the door to their bunk and questioned why they were not taking a moment to honor this bugle call. While the boys were very apologetic and stood to attention, I tried to explain to them that I was not looking for them to please me but rather to take a quiet moment to reflect about themselves.
Too often in life, we fail to take a moment to stop and give thanks for what we have. We fail to take a moment to reflect on the impact we have had on others or think about those we love. My hope for these boys and counselors is that someday they will hear this call, and like Hank, they will want to take the opportunity to be thankful for what is most important in life.