July 2017 Final Night

The team chants greeted us as we awoke this morning. The center of camp was ablaze in colors as were many of the campers! Some were covered head to toe, so do not be surprised by a little residual paint in your daughter’s hair tomorrow. We are at a fever pitch of enthusiasm as we enter this final day.

The friendly team competitions are underway, and our day will end with the Banquet hosted by our Aides. Final campfire will bring tears and cheers as the girls are rewarded for their hard work and celebrated by their friends. I expect there will be several Silver KCs awarded tonight given the longevity of our campers: 68% of the four week campers have been at Keystone a minimum of four years. The Silver is a substantial personal achievement for our girls and it is a privilege to be able to present the award to them.

I have spent the last few days thinking about this group and the lessons I have learned about them over time. I will be sharing my thoughts at campfire tonight. July is always such a great session to do a deep dive into ourselves. We have the time to think deeply, to challenge ourselves and to truly learn. The strength of camp comes from the strength of our community, of our sense of responsibility to one another, of holding each other accountable for our roles within our group, and to always operate from a position of respect for one another. Respect plays out in so many ways at camp. We stay safe in activities and at camp in general by having respect for the rules. When counselors are respected, they are listened to and are able to lead groups effectively. By respecting each other, we allow the space and the opportunity for all to enjoy their camp experience. Respect allows our community to function well.

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Camp is a place to belong, and this sense of belonging contributes mightily to the development of self-confidence. To live with others, to experience new surroundings and to interact with a variety of new people allows us to learn we can enter into new situations and succeed. The successes at camp contribute building blocks to our character. We learn to make good choices for ourselves. We learn make good choices in how we deal with others. We learn new skills, both physical and emotional. We learn how much of our life and our experience is actually ours to choose.

If I had to wish for one key take away from camp for each girl, it would be that they leave knowing they are in control of their choices. Being able to stay true to ourselves is huge. We should not be governed by, “They said…” or “They told me to…” In this community, we can develop our principles, learn what works for us, and learn what we don’t want to do. Sometimes, it is difficult to stand on our character when we are tempted by our desire to be liked, or to be popular, or to go blindly along with a group. If we are able to keep looking inward and increasing our understanding of ourselves, we are able to become better members of our community. We build our character piece by piece.

I am always fascinated where I find pearls of wisdom. The following so succinctly sums up my thinking:

“Popularity comes and goes. You need to know who you are, what you stand for, and why you are here.” – Madonna

My hope for your girls is that they use their experiences at Keystone to contribute to the strength of their character and that they stand hard and fast on that foundation as they grow into strong, resilient women.

Thank you for your trust and your confidence in Keystone.