Without a doubt, this was the nicest day of the summer. We had bright blue skies and temperatures in the mid-eighties at Camp Takajo– perfect weather for a full day of activities and inter-camp competition. Our boys made us proud while competing in tennis, basketball, soccer, and baseball tournaments. These tournaments are grueling, as the campers are playing in the sun, anywhere from three to five games in a day.
When participating in tournaments at neighboring camps, it is even more challenging to be competing on “foreign” soil. What’s impressed me so far while watching our boys prepare for these long days, is that they keep their emotions in check, and they take great pride in knowing that they are representing Takajo. Our boys know that when they represent Takajo, it extends far beyond the victories. We teach our boys to be good sports, respect the call, never talk back, and extend a hand in victory or defeat, regardless of the outcome. This lesson is more easily taught after a victory, but far more meaningful after a loss. As a player and coach, I have learned far more after a loss than after a victory. After the victory, the adrenaline is flowing, and we feel on top of the world. After a loss, we feel vulnerable and reserved, making us far more reachable/coachable during these moments of sadness. These lessons are not lost at Camp Takajo, and this is why we see the value of inter-camp competition.
Last night, I received a call from my daughter, who has completed the tenth grade and is in her last year at Tripp Lake Camp. The oldest girls get phone privileges once a week, and I was excited to receive her update. My daughter loves camp but was sad and reflective during our call. She commented that camp is the only place where she can act like a child. At home, she is surrounded by the pressures of high school, and the need to be connected to technology. She recognizes the wholesome environment in which she is living, compared to the pressures felt as she enters into young adulthood.
Like our Okees, she is acutely aware that this is her last summer as a camper. Returning for her final summer, she has realized how quickly her childhood years have passed. She remembers a quote I have often said in our home attributed to George Bernard Shaw,
Youth is wasted on the young.
She so desperately wants to make the most of her final summer at camp. She asked me repeatedly, “Why didn’t you impress upon me the importance of making the most of every day at camp when I was younger,” to which I responded, “Because you were younger.”
Our youngest campers live in the moment; their happiness is derived by instant gratification. It is virtually impossible for younger children to grasp the meaning of this opportunity. They do not realize the developmental growth that will take place during their time at camp. The deep friendships that will form and the self-reliance they will learn does not resonate for the young camper. However, as I listen to my daughter holding back the tears, it warmed my heart to understand that she now realizes how the camp experience has impacted her life.