I am not exactly sure where to begin as I try to formulate what is inside my head on this final day of the camp season. I remember when I was twenty-seven years old, and I purchased Camp Takajo. The founder of the camp, Morty Goldman, told me in order to find true professional happiness, your vocation should be your avocation.
We all spend too many hours a day away from our families in an effort to provide for those we love. Morty always made the argument that if you can find a job that you truly love, you would find great happiness and balance in your life.
This morning at breakfast, I watched a seven-year-old boy, who is entering second grade in the fall, “ball his eyes out” because his grandfather was taking him out of camp a day early to meet up with his parents out west. The heartfelt emotion on this child’s face stayed with me throughout the day.
What makes Camp Takajo such a magical place are the people. This little boy was surrounded by his bunkmates and peers whom he met for the first time only seven weeks ago. The bonds of friendship formed during the past seven weeks will likely last a lifetime. Surrounded by his counselors, I could see the sadness on his face as they all said goodbye to a boy they loved as if he was their own. The connections that form at summer camp are sometimes difficult to describe when you live with someone and share day-to-day life experiences for seven consecutive weeks. You truly get to know the heart and soul of that individual.
Most of the day was spent packing with some strategic breaks to play tennis, pick-up basketball, and take banana boat rides around Long Lake– just enough activity to keep the day fun while we had to focus on the enormous detail of packing everyone up for their journeys home. After dinner, we came together for one last time to enjoy a Warrior-style campfire. Group leader Hank Fortin orchestrates this final campfire as a tribute to the Okee campers, who are “graduating” from camp this summer. He always starts the campfire with a special tribute to these fine young men as he remembers fondly when they were in the Warrior group and attended these weekly campfires. We must have sung ten campfire songs this evening, but the entire camp community rose to their feet when our Okees came down to lead us in a song.
As I think back to the start of my day, watching a little seven-year-old boy cry because he had to leave for home, I could just imagine what it is like for our fifteen-year-old boys as they depart from the shores of Long Lake for the last time. It has been a spectacular summer and an honor and a privilege to care for your children. Wishing you a healthy and happy end to your summer and a successful transition to the school year this fall.