We just completed our second visiting day, and I am taking a moment to reflect on what I witnessed and the incredible conversations that I had with so many wonderful families. I have never viewed my role as camp director as seasonal. I don’t stop caring for my boys and their families on the last day of camp. I have had the unique privilege to be invited into your homes to share some of the most intimate moments of your child’s development and to experience your joys and some cases moments of great sadness.
What I love most about my job is having the opportunity to watch your sons grow and to play a small part in their growth and development during these formative years. I had one father tell me today that his son has spent one year cumulatively of his life at Camp Takajo, and he believes that the experience that his son has had during his camping days have contributed greatly into the fine young man he is today.
What makes Camp Takajo special is the continuity of our leadership team. When parents return each summer, they know that they will be greeted by my incredible administration team. It is rare in this day and age to retain such amazing talent and to find individuals who are completely devoted to the company’s mission. I have been fortunate to retain some of the most moral and ethical people who make Camp Takajo this special home for your children.
While my attention clearly remains on our children, I couldn’t help but notice the deep emotion expressed by many parents of our Okee campers. For some, coming to Maine on this weekend has become a ritual for close to twenty years. The thought of not returning to camp next summer is almost as painful for them as it is for their children because not returning to Maine symbolizes the end of an era, a passage of time that one can never get back.
While they celebrate this special milestone, they inherently understand that a part of their son’s youth is coming to an end and that their little boy is now becoming a young man. There has been a deep sense of comfort for these families knowing that their boys have been in this safe “bubble.” While they celebrate the end of this amazing journey, they know that the safety and security that has been provided at camp will come to an end.
Many parents of Okee campers took special notice of our first-time families, who were visiting the campus for their first visiting day. They witnessed that first embrace when those little boys ran into their parents’ arms and the nervous excitement that these newer members of our community felt as they try to assess their son’s first experience away from home. They wanted to reassure these new camp parents that their sons were thriving. Even if they did not like every child in their son’s bunk or felt that the counselor was a little too strict when asked to make a bed, that these little boys would develop lifelong friendships, learn more about themselves in one summer than they would in an entire school year, and in just a few short years they too would also be crying, wishing their son has just one more summer at camp.
We ended our visiting day at four o’clock, and our Warriors made their way into the dining room to cool off, hydrate, and enjoy chicken nuggets with french fries. I spent the entire meal walking table to table looking every child in the eye, and I could honestly tell you that every boy was engaged with his friends and transitioning back to camp. Your sons are happy, they feel loved and safe. We are committed to making the most out of every day left in the camp season.
Our Juniors and Seniors were tired after a long day and took the evening to hang out with their friends, enjoy a movie, and finish off the candy that was left from their parents. Tomorrow, our Senior boys will pack and prepare for their big trips, which depart on Monday. But for now, we take a deep breath, get a good night’s sleep, and dream of Dunkin’ donuts in the morning.