Dear Takajo Families,
Every summer at our opening orientation meeting, I share the following with our staff: “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” It speaks to the anticipation and planning that go into every camp season, but more broadly to every facet of our lives. It has always been my firm belief that knowledge and preparation are the keys to execution and success. Clearly, I never anticipated a pandemic, but I’ve always tried to live my life, both personally and professionally, in a way that prepared me to withstand the unexpected. Never has that belief been more tested than now.
I have friends and colleagues who own camps in Connecticut and New York who made a good faith effort to operate this summer and were told several weeks ago they would not be permitted to do so. That was hard enough. Camps in Massachusetts were told they could open under the state’s Phase III guidelines, but without warning and just days before their scheduled opening, the state rescinded that plan. As you can imagine, this was devastating news for camps that had made significant investments in their preparations to open this summer.
Even as I recognize the challenges faced by my counterparts, including those who are opening, I still find myself struggling to be at peace with the decision not to open Takajo. Like everyone, I am trying to count my blessings and maintain an even keel. I have said on a number of occasions, sometimes even within earshot of my wife, Joan, that this was the second most difficult decision of my life. Fortunately, Joan knows me well enough to “appreciate” my sense of humor, even – or maybe especially – when I’m faced with a challenge.
Parenting is a juggling act under the best of circumstances. When something is distressing to our children, our emotions are stronger and the pain feels more pronounced. What concerns me more than the loss of recreation this summer at our beautiful facility in Maine, is the loss of the social and emotional growth that takes place when children experience the natural ebb and flow of living and playing together during their seven weeks at camp. Camp provides a unique opportunity to develop self-reliance and emotional resilience away from mom and dad. This is what our children will miss most this summer. Nevertheless, I am confident that those who are old enough to attend sleepaway camp are old enough to understand, in an age-appropriate way, the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves. With your guidance, they will navigate this extraordinary time and be better prepared for the challenges they are sure to face in the future.
This week we began hosting Zoom calls by age division, starting with our youngest boys, the Crows. Seeing these adorable little guys and talking with them about camp, even if only from my computer screen, only reinforces my love and commitment for what I do. Despite the distance, I relish the opportunity to interact with your sons and look forward to our Zoom sessions with every age group. While I’m convinced the decision to remain apart this summer was the right one, I am equally convinced that all of us will feel a renewed sense of appreciation next summer when we are together again at our shared home-away-from-home.