On so many levels, this was the day I needed to witness in camp in order to fully appreciate all that I have encountered since I made the announcement not to open camp in May of 2020. While in my heart I always envisioned seeing camp once again thriving, I’ve waited a long time to get here. Last summer was one of the loneliest times in my life. I spent the summer at camp with my family and made a commitment to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy this sacred place without campers during the summer. We water-skied, played tennis, and went for pontoon boat rides. There was a sense of comfort knowing that I was able to provide my family with a safe haven during this crazy pandemic, but there was never a day or a time that I walked around camp when I wasn’t mourning the loss of what I couldn’t provide for your boys. Today was the day I came out of mourning and truly felt alive again.
It was perhaps the most beautiful day of the season. Bright sunshine, mid-seventies, with a light breeze that could be felt throughout the entire campus. We played and explored every acre of this property. Our Senior Intermediate campers are back from their rafting trip and took to the fields with renewed excitement after a few days off. Our Junior campers had a full program with sports, hobbies, and skills. They were treated to kayak relay races during their instructional swim period, which was incredibly fun for all the boys. Our Warrior campers were in regular program throughout the morning, and all three age groups had a chance to spend some time in the lake in the afternoon. The Warrior Hawks (finished third grade) had a sandcastle building contest, which was once again DJ’ed. The music blaring, the sun shining, our little guys laughing– it was a perfect afternoon.
Perhaps the most memorable part of our day was when the campers and staff came together to listen to a presentation delivered by World of Change founder, Matt Hoidal. A number of years ago, Matt asked himself the question, how much loose change is sitting in our homes around the country? The answer was staggering. He informed us that there were roughly 10 billion dollars of loose coins in our homes and an additional 60 million dollars of coins thrown away annually. He challenged himself to collect as many coins as possible to donate to those in need. His presentation was inspiring. When he concluded, each camper reached into a large bowl of change that was donated by Camp Takajo so that every boy would have the opportunity to make a charitable contribution to a meaningful cause.
World of Change donates to organizations supporting families and providing food, health care, housing, education, and play opportunities. Plus, they provide an outdoor experience for children, so they can play and connect with nature and the environment. After each camper made a contribution, one little boy came up to me and suggested that we should all be making a contribution to education. He remarked that if everybody in our country was able to receive an education, then they would likely be able to provide their own housing, food, and recreation. It was incredibly inspiring watching our boys listening with great interest as Matt shared his life mission. It is my hope that this experience will spark a desire in our boys to have a generous heart and to share with those in need.
After dinner, I invited our Warrior Hawks down to my house for their movie night. They enjoyed a change of scenery, a cold soda, and some munchie snacks as they had their first semblance of home since coming to camp. Before Taps sounded, our SubSeniors returned from their rafting trip with big smiles and a few bug bites. Tomorrow, our Okees will return from their trip, and we will once again be a total camp family. I am overjoyed by the fun that I am witnessing and the smiles that are beaming on your sons’ faces. I’ve waited a long time for this day.