Tak Talk Blog- Camp Takajo – July 1, 2022

By July 1, 2022 Tak Talk

It’s been a week since your boys arrived at Camp Takajo, and I marvel at how much has transpired since those buses rolled into camp. I had a brief staff meeting yesterday morning to help my staff keep in perspective how well our younger boys are doing.

Separation has become increasingly more challenging for children; stress and anxiety are on the rise, and the pandemic has created an unusual lack of separation for children from their parents for the past two years. Our children are smart, and inquisitive and have probably been a source of comfort for many of you as you’ve navigated through some challenging times over the last few years. So many view camp as a form of recreation and unstructured play; but in reality, the life skills that a child gains while at camp are far more valuable than anything else we could teach to your children.

I mentioned to my staff that these little guys have been removed from the people who love them the most and from the homes that provide them their greatest comfort and security. They have been thrust into an environment where they are sharing a living space, sometimes with strangers, where they are forced to rely on counselors who they have never met. In the first few days, our boys are trying to learn the names of their bunkmates and the other boys of their age division, assess which counselor will be their go-to, figure out how to navigate around a new facility, and fend for themselves three times a day during mealtime. When parents ask me if their son is happy, I can’t help but think about everything these little guys need to do just to exist and function away from home. Is your son thriving? You bet he is! He is surrounded by the love of our nurturing staff, he is finding comfort in his new surroundings, and success in his activities. This doesn’t happen overnight and is why a full-season summer camp is critically important to a child’s growth and development.

Takajo Camper SwimmingI have often said that this generation is growing up in what I refer to as the “microwave generation.” Expectations are that problems are solved quickly, happiness should be instantaneous, and success comes easily. Deep meaningful friendships take time to develop, and trust does not happen overnight. Camp is the antithesis of fast and easy. It is the place where children are forced to slow down to the speed of life.  This afternoon during lunch, I pulled up a seat at one of the Okee tables and sat next to a bunch of our fifteen-year-old campers. Within a few minutes, all of the Okees came around, and we engaged in an incredible conversation. I started by asking the boys if they were having fun and if there was anything that they felt was missing from their final year in camp.

To my delight, the boys responded, “We have each other and we have camp. This is all we need.”

These boys are fifteen years old and have completed ninth grade. A week ago, they had not spent more than a few minutes away from a cellphone or a laptop and now they have transitioned to an environment that forces them to communicate with words rather than their thumbs. Where expressions can be read on one’s face rather than with emojis. Where they don’t have to wonder what others are doing for fear of missing out because they are living together and sharing these moments as one family. Camp is the only place that creates this safe haven for children that gives our kids a forced time-out from a fast-paced, challenging world.

I know that you are missing your children and the thought of them being out of your care can be very challenging. But, you have prepared your sons for this experience, and they are ready to take this leap of faith and navigate through their day without you. I know this because I just had lunch today with forty remarkable young boys– poised, intelligent, considerate campers who were once those little, ambivalent children and are now thoughtful, respectful young men.