For some reason, our oldest boys in camp think it is a right of passage and part of their legacy to leave camp having pulled one significant prank before the end of the summer. Unfortunately, this year is no exception. Throughout this summer, we have complimented our group of Okees for their leadership and their sound judgment. However, last night they reminded us that they are still only fifteen years old.
In the middle of the night, while the rest of the camp was sleeping, many of our oldest boys managed to get their hands on some golf cart keys and decided it would be fun to take two of our carts out on a joyride in the dark. Another Okee got his hands on one of our walkie talkies that can connect to our emergency PA speakers around camp and decided to share his favorite music through the campus, despite the fact the entire camp was peacefully asleep. Another handful of Okees made their way into the dining room, where they made a little mess for our kitchen staff to deal with when they arrived to prepare for breakfast. Admittedly, none of these are the worst pranks in the world, and truth be told, I am not in the best position to cast stones, as I had my hand in a few moments of questionable judgment when I was a camper.
So, the question is what to do with our oldest boys on their last few days of camp. I have lived by the quote, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Therefore, I sat with the culprits today and had a candid conversation. I asked our golf cart drivers if they had a plan B, and naturally, our teenagers asked me, “What is a plan B?”
I asked them if they had given any thought to how they would help each other if there was a collision and someone was hurt and in need of care. The boys stared back at me, speechless. I asked the boys if they had discussed how they would have paid for the cost of the damage in the event they had wrecked a golf cart driving it in sheer darkness. The thought had never seemed to cross their minds. In terms that they could understand, I explained that they are their own brand and how they conduct themselves is in direct correlation for how they will be perceived by others. Each of these boys had impeccable reputations in camp, yet in one impulsive moment, they were willing to risk the goodwill that they have created with this institution for a prank that they now recognize as meaningless.
I look at this incident as an important, teachable moment because our fifteen-year-old boys will be heading home, entering their sophomore years in high school, and they will be faced with far greater challenges with their peers than the ones they faced last night. What matters most when they reflected upon getting in a golf cart for a nighttime joyride is that they think twice before jumping in someone’s car for a similar, but potentially more dangerous joyride.
What is fascinating about my job is that when I make my way to the office each morning, I am sometimes greeted with some unexpected news that needs to be addressed in a manner that creates value for those involved without diminishing the hard work and integrity of this community. After we put the early morning antics behind us, we all moved on and had one of the best days of the summer.
During day three of Olympics, our Warrior Crows competed in golf and all-sport competitions. Our Warrior Braves competed in archery, all-sport, basketball, and tennis, and our Warrior Indians competed in hockey, baseball, soccer, and flag football. One of the highlights of my summer was seeing a ten-year-old score his first goal in soccer, perhaps the first of his life. His excitement and thrill were so contagious that he ran around the field in jubilation and was trailed by members of both teams who followed their friend to share in his joy and celebration.
In the morning, the Junior Greens competed in a massive game of capture the flag, followed by soccer, baseball, water polo, and gaga. The Junior Greys competed in tennis, volleyball, and newcomb. I happened to be near the volleyball court during the newcomb game when the two teams were playing. The volleyball was being thrown back and forth over the net, and the player closest to the ball was responsible for catching it, or he was eliminated from the game. The game came down to two opponents, and on one side was a boy known for his athleticism and competitive nature. On the other side of the net was a boy known for his personality and charm. Seeing the two boys square off and representing their teams was nerve-wracking, but also entertaining. The ball was in the hands of the charming character, who faked left, looked right, and somehow managed to throw the volleyball over the net to a place where his athletic opponent just could not reach. As the ball landed in the sand, Mr. Personality raised his hands in victory, enjoying a moment of sheer delight that he probably never experienced before in any form of athletic competition.
In the afternoon, our Green League athletes competed in baseball, water polo, and soccer, while our Grey Leaguers competed in basketball and football. At the end of the rigorous day of competition, only a few points separated our Warrior and Junior teams.
Our Senior boys competed in their core land sports: football, baseball, soccer, and basketball; with the most-watched game being the Okee basketball game that took place during the morning. On paper, one team appeared unbeatable, having some of the taller, stronger players with greater perceived skills. On the other team was a group of great athletes, who are pure competitors with giant hearts. Throughout the game, the teams were never separated by more than two points and with just seconds to go, the favored team was up by one. A quick timeout was called by their tenacious opponents, who set up a play that worked perfectly as the guard drilled a three-pointer to go up by two. Another timeout was called by the more dominant team. They answered with a bucket at the buzzer to put the game into overtime. The court was filled with campers and counselors from all age levels who were watching in awe as the two teams battled. When the horn blew at the end of overtime, it was the gutty warriors who slew the mighty giants and squeaked out a well-earned victory.
It was an action-packed day at Takajo, during which we had our share of highs and lows. At the end of the day, we came together as a family with love and respect for one another and a deep appreciation for our summer home.