With just two days to go before visitors arrive, you can feel the excitement and enthusiasm starting to build at Camp Takajo. Today was Takajo’s Annual Carnival. The sun was shining; and, while the temperatures reached the mid-eighties, the greatest warmth witnessed today was the love and affection shown by those sisters and cousins who came to visit our boys.
We hosted over three hundred visitors from many of the neighboring girls camps in our region. As a dad, it gave me great joy to watch our boys reconnecting with their loved ones. Today, I witnessed my own two sets of twins reconnecting. Seeing them in this environment where they did not feel the need to interact with the outside world was one of the purest feelings a man can ask for. Without distractions, the conversations and connections between siblings and cousins were uninterrupted and pure.
For me, this is not just the essence of summer camp, this is what is lacking in our children’s lives today. Seeing these children healthy and tan, eating snow cones, jumping in our inflatable castle, and spontaneously playing were beautiful sights to see. It is my opinion that children sometimes need to slow down from their incredibly fast-paced lives and simply live in the moment. Maine’s state slogan, “The way life should be,” is what the campers experienced today.
Our kids are under enormous pressure in school and that is often compounded by overly taxing after school activities, sports teams, rehearsals, and lessons. Summer camp provides a setting that allows children the opportunity to disconnect from all of the pressures of their day-to-day lives. Camp gives children the license to unplug and allow themselves to experience life without distraction.
After the carnival had ended, I was visited by a twelve-year-old boy who wanted to follow-up on a conversation that we had a few days ago. I suggested in our earlier conversation that this boy was big, strong, and athletic; but, what was lacking in his personality, was his kindness, empathy, and sportsmanship. Unlike at home, where a child is able to retreat into the seclusion of his own bedroom, camp does not afford our children that opportunity.
In camp, there is no place for our campers to seclude themselves, as they live shoulder-to-shoulder morning, noon, and night. Their habits and idiosyncrasies are on display for all to capitulate. To this young man’s credit, he shared with me his desire to lead by example. He spoke about how he was going to try to refrain from making sarcastic comments at the expense of others in his bunk. He also touched upon the fact that he wanted his actions both in the bunk and on the playing fields to speak louder than his words. Also to his credit, he promised to come back to me in a few days to provide me with an update on his behavior.
After a long day in the hot sunshine without inter-camp games or cheers coming from our fields, I cannot help but feel that today was an incredibly successful day.