Today was the day you dream of when you think about being away at summer camp. By the time the boys stepped outside their bunks to make their way down to breakfast, you could feel the refreshing warmth and slight humidity in the air. The guys entered the dining room for breakfast, chowed down on waffles, and loaded up on carbs for a full day of activities. The sun was shining and, due to the most recent sunscreen recall, we checked labels before lathering up and sending our boys out to play. In Maine, we do believe in following science. Therefore, we removed sunscreen aerosol bottles that may contain higher than expected levels of a carcinogen.
Our Seniors had a full day of competition. All teams reached the semi-finals bracket. Team sports were selected by the team that was leading in the standings, which gave that team an edge. However, if the team was lucky enough to win and remained ahead in the standings heading into the finals, they needed to select another sport and could not claim dominance based on proficiency in that one sport. I watched a great Senior basketball game that was a nail-biter. I loved the intensity, the skill, the sportsmanship, and the thought of seeing these boys playing together in the coming weeks against some of our neighboring boys’ camps in inter-camp competition.
I watched our Warriors play baseball and marveled at the patience and the instruction given to our boys by our remarkable baseball counselors. I caught thirty minutes of a Mike Turtle soccer clinic and watched him teach our campers the intricacies of striking a soccer ball with finesse and power. I caught our Senior baseball counselor, an incredible athlete who hopes to play in the majors, teach three of our older seniors a proper pitching motion, using the legs to derive speed and accuracy with every pitch.
With all of this activity going on, I remain only as happy as my unhappiest camper. Fortunately, we have lots of smiles in camp, but on any given day, there is something that can set one off and dampen their spirits. Teaching our boys how to keep these moments in perspective by providing the tools and activities needed to redirect their disappointment to create their own happiness are perhaps the greatest skills our boys can learn in camp.
I often ask parents if they could truly imagine living in a bunk for seven weeks in such close proximity with their closest friends without the thought of having an occasional squabble or sad moment. I would venture to say it’s impossible. The camper who steps on your pillow as he reaches for something on the shelf, the wet bathing suit that leaves a puddle of water between your bed and your bunkmate, the assumption of what’s mine is yours because we are a family “living in the same home” only to find out your brother left your baseball glove out on the field– these are all moments that create upset and frustration, yet when handled appropriately could end with laughter and even a valuable learning experience.
As the sun set across Long Lake, fans oscillated in the bunks to create a breeze on a warm summer night. Little boys put their heads on their pillows while Senior league winners celebrated with chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and sliders from Rick’s Cafe. It was the kind of summer day our campers dream of.