We are enjoying a carbon copy of yesterday’s beautiful weather. The combination of the bright sunshine, summer heat, a structured program, pioneering trips, socials, and intercamp competition have set the perfect pace for our boys in camp.
Today, our Junior Green campers (finished fifth grade) had a full day of intercamp. Every boy in the age group had a chance to compete in two or three games. These field days create an opportunity to give every boy, no matter his skill level, the opportunity to put on a Takajo uniform and represent our camp. Half of our fifth graders were guests at a neighboring camp, while the other half of the age group hosted our competitors here at Takajo. We competed in basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, flag football, and ultimate frisbee, as well as hosting a fourteen and under lacrosse tournament today. By the end of the day, our boys were exhausted, but proud of the hard work and effort they displayed on the fields and courts.
Unfortunately, as the competition increases, so do the injuries. By far, the worst part of my job, yet the most important, is comforting one of our boys when he is injured. We have an incredible medical staff and are blessed to have a pediatric surgeon living with us in camp for the first four weeks of the summer. We are also fortunate to have nine registered nurses on staff. When I hire the nurses, I explain to them that while their assessment and medical skills are paramount, their love of children and their bedside manner is of equal importance.
Over the last few days, we have had daily trips to the orthopedist for sprained ankles, bruised shoulders, and broken fingers. Each time, I am called to the health center to visit with an injured camper, I treat that child as if he were my own. Last night when I was called to the Health Center, I was surprised to see that the injured camper was, in fact, my own son. Seeing the disappointment in my son’s eyes as he winced in pain with a bag of ice on his foot renewed our first priority at camp, caring for your children. The trust that you place with my staff and with me is something that I honor and never take for granted.
On a lighter note, I have had some pretty funny conversations with your boys over the last few days. The other day, I saw a Junior camper wearing a coveted Okee bracelet. When I asked the Junior camper how he received a bracelet that is usually reserved only for our oldest boys in camp, he remarked that he got it in a trade. I am not a fan of trades because I always feel that someone ends up on the short end of the stick. I asked this boy what he had to give up in order to receive this bracelet. He replied, “My sister.”
What had happened was that the Junior camper’s sister was coming over for a social that evening. Apparently, the senior camper made the connection that she had a younger brother in camp. The younger camper got the bracelet. The senior got two dances with the sister. Apparently, it was a good deal for both. Another camper came into my office to tell me that one of his bunkmates was feeling down. When I asked him if he could think of something that might perk him up and make him feel better, he answered, “A pontoon boat ride with his bunkmates to the Dairy Bar in Naples.”
When I reminded the friend that his bunkmate is lactose intolerant, he quickly replied, “But, he loves pontoon boat rides.”
My conversations with our campers are priceless. It is these moments that create levity and create the balance to manage the tougher moments that come our way.