Dear Takajo Families,
When I arrived at camp in June, I made a commitment to let go of the things I cannot control and to embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with Joan and our four children. I am also blessed to share this time with my mother and father, who have been married for 63 years, and who remain my guiding light and inspiration. My father, Donny, attended Camp Takajo in 1947, its very first season, so my roots run deep. We are joined by a small group of our extended Takajo family, loyal and loving staff members who have been incredibly helpful in maintaining the grounds, running the summer office, and providing a virtual connection with our campers.
We have created our own bubble and, while we all miss camp terribly, we’ve done our best to focus on the positive and stay active. Like all parents, Joan and I are anxiously awaiting a final mandate from our school district about classes in the fall. Yesterday we received the unfortunate news that our son, Max’s, private school league has canceled fall athletic competition. While our children continue to endure disappointments that add to their loss of normalcy, I remain resolute in my optimism that by the end of the year we will begin to see a light at the end of this dismal tunnel, and we can all look forward to brighter days in 2021.
Being in a bubble for an extended period of time, as we’ve all learned, is not a panacea. The normal ebb and flow of life at home, even under the best of circumstances, has its share of ups and downs. The same is true of camp. When camp is in session, I often refer to the “point of struggle” when discussing strategies to deal with a child who is upset. When emotions are high, we often feel a need to drive home our point, but the desire to win an argument only creates additional tension. When a child, or any of us for that matter, is tired or hungry or emotional, it is usually not the best time to continue an argument or try to reach a point of agreement. It is invariably best to get past the “point of struggle” and return later to whatever issue caused the upset. This is much more likely to result in a reasonable discussion and an outcome that is more satisfying for everyone.
It’s sometimes easier said than done, but I try to use the same tactic with my own children. As we enter the month of August, Joan and I are reassessing the goals we had hoped our children would accomplish this summer. There are many items still on our – or, I should say, their – To Do List: summer reading, an online geometry course, driving practice in preparation for an August 28th road test, writing the first draft of a college essay. Rather than dictate what tasks need to be completed on a particular day, I’ll leave a note as a reminder and ask them to create a timetable to complete their assignments. This precludes an argument that reaches a point of struggle, and it engages them in the decision-making process for things that, ultimately, are their responsibility anyway.
As we’ve been forced to live together, essentially in quarantine, during this uniquely stressful time in our lives, I’ve found this strategy eliminates unnecessary conflict and helps maintain a sense of calm and normalcy. Whatever strategies you’ve adopted in your home, I hope they’ve allowed you to embrace this time as a family, maximizing the ups and minimizing the downs! As we say every summer at camp, the days are long, but the weeks fly by. As the transition back to home and school starts to come into view, hazy though it may be, I hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer. At the same time, I can hardly wait ’til next summer when your sons are back at Takajo. I look forward with great anticipation to witnessing firsthand the resilience and resolve they’ve gained this year, and how it will reveal itself in the ebb and flow of life at camp, their home away from home.