Tak Talk Blog- Camp Takajo – June 28, 2019

By June 28, 2019 Tak Talk
Okee v Staff Soccer game at Camp Takajo

We may be in for some nasty weather, but you couldn’t tell when you looked up in the Takajo sky today.  Today, we felt the summer heat as temperatures reached the eighties, and dew points made the air a bit more sticky. It was a quiet day in my office. I’m happy to report that I had no visitors. It appears that every boy was happily distracted in our program. We had three trips off-property today led by our outstanding pioneering staff.

We have sixteen counselors who work in our outdoor living program, all of whom arrived at camp two weeks prior to our opening day to be trained in CPR, first aid, and emergency rescue training. All of our pioneering counselors are certified to lead trips in the state of Maine. During the course of the summer, we will have roughly 100 trips departing from camp. The trips range from day hikes, canoe trips, whitewater rafting, and longer excursions, such as five days canoeing down the St. Croix River and climbing iconic Mount Katahdin. I believe that when in Maine, our boys should experience this magnificent state by hiking the trails and challenging themselves out in the wilderness.

At our opening campfire, I made reference to our oldest boys in camp, our Okees. We have a record number, fifty-five boys, who came back for their final summer. While I know these boys came back for their love of camp, the bigger draw for returning is because they love each other. The bonds these young men have created during their years at camp will truly last a lifetime. Having owned camp now for thirty-one years, I have heard countless stories about our boys rooming together in college, working together in business, and being groomsmen at each other’s weddings.

Camp Takajo alumniJust the other day, I received an email from Sam Bloch, a great guy, and a former camper who spent his childhood summers at Takajo. I’m taking the liberty of sharing an excerpt from his email. He credits camp for the incredible relationship he formed with his bunkmate, turned roommate, turned business associate, Jordan Gershman.

Jordan Gershman and I started at Morgan Stanley a couple of years ago – today we are finishing our two-year investment banking analyst program. Ten years after our last summer together in Maine, we remain best friends and have spent two years together as roommates and coworkers. Jordan and I were reflecting on our time at Takajo earlier today – we both know that we wouldn’t be here without our Takajo summers and wanted to let you know that we are grateful for the incredible experience that you gave us!  -Sam Bloch, Takajo camper, 2003 – 2008

Being an Okeechobee camper (also known as “Okee”) is a right of passage that comes to those who return for their final summer of camp. However, becoming a leader in camp has to be earned. Just one week into the summer, it is apparent that this year’s Okees want to set the right example for our younger boys to follow.

Just last night, our Okees challenged our Senior counselors to a soccer game. Tons of campers and counselors made their way out to the Senior field to witness this challenge. The game was physical, and the skill was remarkable. At the end of regulation time, the game was tied at three goals apiece. After a nail-biting PK shoot out, our Okee goalkeeper made a spectacular save, leaving the door open for the final shooter to win the game. With many campers and counselors in attendance and the pressure at a fever pitch, the Okee camper drilled the ball into the back corner of the net to win the game. The Okees were ecstatic, and the campers were feeding off their jubilation. The Okees ran triumphantly to the beach, where they took a celebratory dip in the lake.

Shortly after witnessing this excitement, I made my evening rounds to say goodnight to the Warrior campers. As I walked into a bunk of ten-year-old campers, I was surprised to see the Okee camper who scored the winning goal of the game. After the most heroic athletic achievement of his life, this Okee decided to spend his time with his camp little brother.

While the soccer game was amazing, I couldn’t help but feel the real, iconic moment of the day was witnessing this Okee superstar sharing his moment with our youngest boy in camp. This is the essence of camp.