We have had a tremendous July session at Keystone. I settled on this title today because of the transition ahead of all of us: campers, both 4 weekers and 2 weekers, and staff. It reminds me of wrapping up a long flight as we gather our possessions, close out any reading or watching we have been doing, return our service items and wrap up our conversation with our seat mates. When we walk off the flight, we leave behind all that transpired…just like returning home from being at summer camp…
It is so hard to describe all that goes on during a session at camp. The first day of a session is always a mixture of emotions. For some, it is hard to say good-bye to family. Perhaps the girl has been so nervous, she couldn’t even eat breakfast. For others, they cannot say good-bye quickly enough. They have been counting down the days to camp since they left Keystone last summer. The emotions begin to settle as the first night approaches. The campers and counselors in each cabin spend that first day getting to know each other and building their cabin community. When activities start in earnest on Monday, the entire group then begins coming together for the session. Our shared experiences, from meals, daily activities, out of camp trips, Carnival, Super Bowl Sunday, and evening programs to friendships and campfires, have fully engaged all of us. Our world has been tech-free and we have had minimal contact with the “outside” world. We have been out of touch with our social media accounts and with the world news, and we have been able to focus on each other and to develop great relationships.
Our leadership team met with our LITs over lunch today. They all commented on how much they have appreciated being without their phones. Several expressed concerns about having to deal with what awaits them once their phones are back on and connected. The girls talked about the opportunity to truly know each other completely and totally while at camp. We did a quick calculation and figured out that for a 4 weeker, our campers are together for the equivalent time of half a school year. Our 9 LITs represent 64 summers at Keystone Camp. These girls know each other well, and they return each year for their enduring friendships.
So how can we handle the landing back in the real world? It is definitely a transition. The girls are going to be tired when they come home. They have pushed themselves physically and emotionally. The girls have learned how to work through failure. They have learned constructive problem solving; how to help themselves. The girls have challenged themselves to achieve new goals. They have worked hard at camp. The last week of the session is busy with competitions, performances and late nights. Tonight, emotions will be very high after campfire, and it will be late by the time girls can settle down enough to sleep. Having to say good-bye to these very special, very true friends is hard. As much as your daughter will be excited to see you, she will mourn the end of camp.
Our counselors and our staff also mourn the end of session. Each of our sessions has a very distinct personality, and we are grateful for that. We will miss these girls when they leave. Each Keystone girl leaves a bit of herself behind with us. These individual contributions shape our overall camp community. These contributions help us bring clarity to our mission and our drive as a summer camp. We value the individuality of each of girls. We want to nurture their uniqueness while making them feel accepted and included in our community.
You won’t be able to hear all about the session in the first day or two. Stories and lessons from camp will pop up over the months ahead. Even as adults, our camp experiences continue to be relevant, and we continue to talk about what we learned as campers. Camp teaches resilience. It cultivates self-advocacy and it builds independence, confidence and interpersonal skills. Camp allows us to understand ourselves. Camp is an amazing gift to a child, and we are grateful you chose Keystone for your daughter.
From Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.” We have learned so much about ourselves over this session together, and we have touched each other.
Only 11 months remaining until camp…