Dear Takajo Families,
It remains very quiet in camp. No bugle calls to tell us when to get up or where to go next. No running from lineup down to the dining hall for the meal. And worst of all, no chatter or laughter at the waterfront or on the fields, where normally boys would be reveling in the joy of playing games with their friends and learning new physical skills. Even more important than the outward signs of camp would the assimilation of lifelong skills that build character – working with others as a team, playing with passion and sportsmanship – win or lose, and cementing cherished friendships.
It’s hard to believe today would mark the end of the third week. Typically, by this time in the summer, younger boys, who may have had some difficulty transitioning to camp, start to hit their stride as they become more familiar and comfortable with the daily routine and pace of camp. Our magnificent facility and wide-ranging program keep boys hopping from one activity to the other, providing a constructive distraction to ward off any occasional stirrings of homesickness. Our warm, empathetic staff keeps our little guys engaged and makes them feel loved and embraced as part of our Takajo Family.
Older boys would be competing in intercamp competition on a daily basis. As I look toward the Commons Deck, I envision our boys smartly dressed in their Takajo uniform, sports gear at their side, chatting as they wait to board the bus, ready to give it their all with their band of brothers. I can see the Art Center buzzing, activities spread out onto the deck, walls filled with colorful projects, boys working diligently on masterpieces to display at our annual Art Show for the entire camp to appreciate. Maybe the thing I love most about camp is that no matter where I am on the grounds, and whatever direction I look, there is action, enthusiasm, and laughter.
Even though camp is quiet right now, I am blessed to have these vivid memories which fuel my soul. Our Zoom calls with each age group have been a tonic for me and I think for many of our boys. I have relished the opportunity to see so many smiling faces, and it is very gratifying to see how many boys are staying in touch with each other throughout the summer. While it is bittersweet, I know it is only temporary. While the country remains in turmoil and the news turns to whether schools can reopen safely, I remain incredibly optimistic that, even though we have to remain patient and vigilant for the foreseeable future, we will eventually turn this around and get to a place that is better than the one we left behind.
I recently picked up a book that I read a number of years ago. It is called A Season of Life. It was written by Jeff Marx, a high school teammate and close friend of mine. During his childhood, Jeff was a ball boy for the Baltimore Colts and, as you can imagine, was enamored being around professional football players. He made a personal connection with Joe Ehrmann who was the captain and one of many stars on the team. In the book, Jeff recounts reconnecting with Joe about twenty-five years later. After Joe retired from professional football, he became an ordained minister. He remained in Baltimore and volunteered to coach the Gilman High School football team. One day after a preseason workout, a parent asked him, “Coach, how do you think the boys are going to do?” Joe responded, “I won’t be able to let you know that for another fifteen years.”
After a distinguished career at the highest level, Joe understood the importance of leading a life of integrity, empathy, and compassion. Through his coaching, and through a program he called Building Men for Others, Joe was committed to teaching boys how to be men of substance and how to make an impact by focusing on relationships and a cause beyond themselves. These goals reflect our own and the precept of “Building Character through Example.” It is heartening to see that the lessons of camp continue to strengthen the foundation you have built in your homes, and they keep us connected even when we are physically apart. As I reflect on this season in my own life, I believe we will look back and remember this time as an experience that tested our resolve, but ultimately helped us refocus on the things we love and care about most – our families and our friends.