As the great Yankee baseball catcher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s deja vu all over again.” We woke up to another beautiful day at Camp Takajo despite humidity levels that could almost take your breath away. Nevertheless, many of our amazing staff (dressed in their finest red, white, and blue colors) came to breakfast ready to celebrate our Independence Day. There were many campers that expressed pride for their country and reached into their cubbies to wear their patriotic colors throughout the day. For the first time since I purchased Takajo in 1988, our Warrior campers stayed back and did not participate in the Naples Independence Day Parade. With temperatures reaching the 90’s, we anticipated that the march through town would potentially be unhealthy for our campers and staff. As one might imagine, there was no pushback, only smiles, and we created impromptu games to manage the heat.
Our Warrior campers challenged their counselors to a game of kickball that turned out to be one of the highlights of this summer. We turned on the sprinkler system on the field which kept everybody cool and refreshed throughout the game. The waterfront was opened after breakfast until the sound of taps and just about every camper and counselor took advantage of a refreshing dip in Long Lake. As a matter of fact, while I was making my evening rounds to say goodnight to the Warriors, I surprised our youngest campers and offered them an impromptu “midnight” dip. Our little guys were already in their pajamas ready to retire for the night, but the thrill of running down in a bathing suit with a towel for one last jump in the lake was simply too enticing for them to resist. It was a great way too cool down before they put their heads on their pillows for the night.
Our Okees have been enjoying some head-to-head competition against our senior counselors. After loosing in a flag football game earlier in the week, they redeemed themselves by beating their counselors in gaga. The hot weather cannot detract from the fun and excitement that this competition has created amongst our oldest boys and staff.
As you would imagine, the humid weather has presented some difficulties. For some, sleeping has been a challenge, and we know the importance of staying hydrated when dealing with extreme temperatures. I think back to fifteen years ago when we built a new dining hall and decided to put central air conditioning into the building. There were many that questioned this move and said, “It’s just not camp.” However, my primary focus as a camp owner is the safety of my campers and staff. The dining hall is the one facility in camp that every camper and counselor visits three times a day, every day of the summer. The air conditioning allows us to take the humidity out of the air, creating a welcome respite for our hard-working staff and active campers. Our boys are walking into the facility feeling refreshed and refuel their bodies with the nutrition and fluids they need to battle these long days.
Seeing our boys chow down during this heat spell reinforces the importance of reinvesting in our beautiful facility. It is not enough to just focus on a child’s emotional well-being, it is also our responsibility to never lose sight of their physical health. As the boys retired for the evening, they could hear the sounds of fireworks coming from the town of Naples. We will have our Takajo firework celebration tomorrow evening. As we take a moment to celebrate our independence, I count my blessings including the opportunity to spend the summer with your son and watch him thrive in your absence.