Six weeks ago the entire Takajo family came together for the first time in our council ring to become indoctrinated into the Takajo community and introduced to the Takajo Arch Ideals. We were strangers from all around the world at different ages and stages of life coming together at camp, yet we all shared a common desire to experience a renewed sense of normalcy that was taken from us due to COVID-19. The stars lit the majestic sky, and a roaring campfire created the perfect ambiance for this sacred occasion. Our faces were shielded by masks, highlighting that we were still not free to resume a normal life.
I looked in the first few rows of our amphitheater at our youngest campers, who were only days into their Takajo experience, still nervous and unsure if they would survive away from home for their first time away from their parents. I caught a glimpse of our Okees sitting in the top row, so happy to be back in camp but apprehensive because they knew they would have to sacrifice so many special events in order to remain safely in our bubble; no inter-camp sports, socials, or big trips. Would the anticipation of coming to camp be greater than the reality of living in camp? A row away from our Okees were sixteen CITs who had lost their Okee summer last year and had returned to be together as brothers for one final summer before life takes them in different directions.
I took this opportunity to address a word that is often uttered, but rarely implemented, “perspective.” Our children have been loved, nurtured, and sheltered but have rarely, if ever, had to develop different perspectives on life. Giving thanks for what we have and having a greater appreciation for opportunities because of what we have lost is what creates perspective. On this night, regardless of the age or stage of one’s life, we shared a desire to make the most of this unique opportunity. Our intentions were clear– to embrace a community that offers love, guidance, and acceptance to all, that allows us to regain our sense of play, the ability to have meaningful in-person interactions, and our self-confidence.
The last six weeks have been magical. We’ve grown together as a community, played together, laughed, cheered, cried, celebrated, shared the joys, and comforted the moments of sadness. We have found our balance, our perspective. We have learned that we didn’t need waterparks, inter-camp, socials, or big bags of candy on visiting day to make us happy. We found our happiness within ourselves.
We are approaching our last week of camp. In the last few days, all of our Warrior campers have enjoyed sleepover movie nights with their age groups, snuggled under blankets, and munching on some late-night pizza. Our Juniors had fun at casino night, betting with fake money that has the admins’ faces on every denomination of bills. Many of our Seniors conquered their fears and swam across Long Lake this week in our annual Senior Swim the Lake event. Make your own Sundae parties for all age groups each night were the perfect way to end a warm, summer night.
The grand finale, our Olympics, is about to take place. This evening, our Warriors were surprised with the “break” of the Takajo Olympics during their campfire. Our little guys know their team and will start to compete in the morning, Olympic style. Our Junior and Seniors are on the edge, waiting for their breaks. This final week will be the culmination of everything we achieved as a community throughout the summer. We have become one family and have grown so much since the first time we came together.