It’s often the smallest moments that tell the biggest story.
A few evenings ago when I was walking around during the evening program taking pictures, I walked up to two boys who were sitting on the wall outside of the Arena Court. We just started chatting about camp, their day, and the water. One of the campers, who’s 11 years old and was wearing a Michael Jordan Bulls jersey, asked me, “Do you know who MJ is?” I told him I did, but I don’t think I convinced him. He went on: “I love him. He’s just great. My mother found the jersey in the basement. When I saw it, I told her I had to bring it camp!”
It’s this boy’s first Kawaga summer (though his big brother is also a camper). He was excited to have this discussion with both me and the other camper, who added that he also brought a Bulls jersey to camp along with a Detroit Lions jersey. I let him know that aside from MJ, I didn’t think I could name another Bulls player. (Yes, I could ask for a break since I’m from Michigan, but I don’t know any more about the Lions.) These boys could sense that I was a bit out of my element; so, they were excited to fill me in.
What really mattered was not whose jerseys they had or how cool they looked, but that they just wanted to have a simple, funny conversation. They could tell I couldn’t talk sports with them. But, they were so sweet to include me. It’s these moments of normalcy that so amaze me and make me grateful to a part of all this.
Parents, I’m really getting to know your boys. And they understand I care about them. Although we are physically distanced (for at least another few days), we’re in no way emotionally distanced. I’m checking in on them all everyday. We’re one big one unit, with so many relationships being built. Everybody knows we’re in this together. Your boys are happy, confident, and calm.
I’m having these conversations all day long. I do a morning route with my camera, then one in the afternoon, and one again during our evening program. I’m getting a real sense of how campers are feeling. It’s apparent that — at least for now when they’re still in their cohorts — that they feel this summer is different. They’re busy and active. But, they’re also enjoying the simple pleasures of camp perhaps more than ever. They seem to relish in just chilling; hanging out with their cabinmates; sitting on the arena court wall talking about jerseys; and having impromptu conversations.
It’s just so fun to be a part of all this. No question, I appreciate camp this summer on such a different level. Before we arrived, nothing was normal. Now, this is so normal and wonderful. To these boys, it’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. At camp, we’ve created a bubble. It’s giving us all such deep emotional and social rewards.
The overall happiness I feel among campers is as high as ever. I see these light little smiles all the time. It’s as if these boys understand the importance of being present in the moment and that the little things in life in many ways are the big things. They enjoy being with each other and love being at camp. Of course, they loved the huge, spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show over the lake and that we’re spoiling them with more snowcones than ever before. But, they savor the simple moments more than ever.
Be Happy. Be Proud. Be Kawaga.
P.S. Unbeknownst to me, a staff member took this picture during the jersey conversation!