It’s with great excitement and anticipation that I write my first blog article of the summer. Over the past two weeks, I have enjoyed getting to know our staff as they have participated in our rigorous staff training. Our waterfront staff has been certified in CPR, first aid, and WSI under the leadership of our waterfront director, Bob Lewis, who is returning for his twenty-ninth season. He is being ably assisted by Craig Parker, who is returning for his nineteenth season. Our pioneering staff has been trained in CPR, first aid, and wilderness survival under the leadership of Hal Williams, who is returning for his twenty-third year at camp. We are blessed to have Hank and Jane Fortin as our “Dynamic Duo,” running Warrior Camp for our boys who have just finished grades one through four. Hank is returning for his forty-seventh season and Jane for her thirty-sixth. Jane fell in love with Hank while at Takajo and has not missed a summer since they were married.
Your children are blessed to have many educators at camp who are committed to the campers’ growth and development. Neil Minsky returns to Takajo to assume his role as the Junior group leader, his twenty-fifth season at camp. A former camper, counselor, and now division leader, Neil relies on his years at camp along with the experience that he brings as one of the deans at Brunswick Middle School in Greenwich, Connecticut. This makes him a perfect leader for our boys who have just finished fifth and sixth grades. Paddy Mohan returns as the Senior group leader and his thirty-second year at camp. As a teacher in the offseason and a father of two boys, Paddy has the education and the first-hand knowledge of what it takes to manage this exuberant group of adolescent boys.
I have fond memories of the ritual that my parents created before my first day of camp each summer. I remember my parents always letting me choose what we were doing that final day at home and where we would go for that last meal together. Upon reflection, I didn’t realize that my parents were creating a great distraction by allowing me to celebrate my last day at home. I am sure many of you have come up with your own way to ease your child into the transition before heading to summer camp.
The other day, when I was addressing the staff I reminded them of a conversation that I had with a child struggling to adjust a few years back. I asked this child, “Do you like swimming in the ocean?” to which he replied, “Yes.” Then, I asked him how the water felt when he first put his feet in the water. He replied, “Freezing cold.” I quickly followed up with a question asking him how he felt thirty seconds later to which he replied, “The water felt warmer.” The child allowed me to ask him the same question when he went in up to his knees and then to his waist. Each time, he replied that it was cold but quickly began to feel warmer as the seconds went by. I explained to this camper that the water temperature was not changing however his body was adjusting to the water. If he allowed himself to dive in, he might feel a sudden shock to his system but would quickly experience the joy that comes from swimming in the ocean. This analogy holds true with camp life.
Your son may be nervous as he wakes up tomorrow but at the moment he meets our counselors and begins connecting with other boys, he will be overwhelmed with comfort. He may be nervous when the buses roll down the camp road, but at the same time, he won’t be able to contain his excitement as he is greeted by cheers from our enthusiastic staff. He may be nervous walking into the bunk for the first time, but he will feel relaxed and at home when his counselor points out where he will be sleeping and introduces him to his bunk mates. Before we experience our happiest moments in life, we often must face our anxiety and our fears. Camp is a wonderful place to help children develop self-esteem, confidence, and independence. Warren and my entire staff cannot wait for the much-anticipated arrival of your children. Here’s to the start of an amazing season.