Another picture perfect day in Maine. Bright sunshine, magnificent blue skies, and warm temperatures make our waterfront attractive to all comers. As we reach the halfway mark of our first week of camp, it is easy to notice how our boys are settling in.
No different from when we as adults first meet, that first exchange between campers is always pleasant and upbeat because they know to be on their best behavior. However, once they feel “at home” and settle into our routine their true personality begins to come out. This is a phase in camp that must take place in order for meaningful relationships to develop. As the relationships in each bunk take shape it becomes easy for us to see which boy looks for the laugh, seeks extra attention, or requires a little more nurturing and help picking up on social cues. A trust forms in each bunk.
The boys become a family and look out for one another as they develop their own unique routines and rituals that will stay with them throughout their lives. Regardless of how much time has passed, when I connect with my old bunkmates from Camp Takajo we laugh about the same silly stories. The OD who pulled us out of the bunk and made us hug a tree because we were keeping the whole quad up after taps is one memory that comes to mind.
The relationships that are formed during the seven weeks of the camp season create a trusting bond that is impenetrable. This evening was our opening campfire. This was the first time that the entire camp came together to participate in one of our most valued traditions. Each year, we keep coals from the final campfire of the prior season and pour them into the opening campfire of the current season in order to create a seamless transition from one summer to the next.
Our campers and staff were introduced to the camp’s iconic arch ideals, and twelve campers and staff members were selected to participate in a candle lighting ceremony in which each arch ideal was defined. What I love most about the opening campfire is that the summer is in front of us. Our hopes, our dreams, and our aspirations can all become a reality. It is within the campers’ control to treat others with kindness and humility and to recognize that how they respond to a person or a situation can have a great impact on that person’s self-esteem. As we left the campfire, we made a pledge to learn the Camp Takajo Arch Ideals and to try to implement them into our daily lives.