Simple Gifts

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Keystone Camp just celebrated a wedding…of our pigs: Canola and El Macho. Canola wore a tuile tutu designed by Zoe, a budding fashion designer. The tuile tutu was pink and white with foam hearts in shades of pink and red affixed to the tuile. She wore a matching headband of pink tuile and white jacquard. Canola was a lovely bride. El Macho had a stovepipe hat and bow tie also designed by Zoe. However, he declined to wear his apparel. Merry Legs, our smallest, but most beloved horse, officiated for the happy couple. Bruno Mars’s song, Marry You, was the music for the ceremony. Both sides of the aisle were packed with well wishers for the happy couple. What fun we had celebrating! Since the article in the New York Times about decreasing children’s screen time, I have been reflecting on the value of being at camp. Disconnecting from screens is one of the most significant ways being at camp impacts our campers. Instead of streaming a pig wedding, we were able to attend one. Life happens to us at camp. We live it fully. We are not observers, but participants.

When we are away from our screens, we have time to truly enjoy the simple gifts around us. I found a toad hanging out by a garden hose, and I was able to share it with the campers. A chipmunk mastering a squirrel-proof birdfeeder to pack his cheeks is a sight to be watched for hours. A lot of our girls are taking great pleasure in watching a nest of baby robins grow up as the nest is easily seen from the Pavilion ramp. As I walked back to the office after the wedding at the barn, I was thrilled to see the tennis courts filled with counselors and campers playing together. There were also girls gathered on the flag green, hanging out in Crazy Creek chairs chatting away while working on friendship bracelets. Activities bring plenty of interaction and challenge, but it is this time to relax and engage with others that adds to our connectedness and our appreciation for one another. It is being able to share the natural beauty around us and to seize opportunities to make our own fun that are so meaningful. The mountains of Western North Carolina are very special, and their beauty is unique. The many waterfalls in our area reinforce the power and beauty of nature. We try to get our girls out as often as possible to experience this beautiful world. It is jumping off the rock into the Davidson River or going down Sliding Rock that makes a day really special. Sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway or from the top of Pilot Mountain cannot be described in words. It must be experienced. The gifts are simple, but they have a profound impact on our relationships to nature and to each other.

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On top of the wedding of Canola and El Macho, multiple out of camp trips, and a normal activity day, Keystone’s long-scheduled reaccreditation visit from the American Camp Association began at 8:30 this morning, and we were surprised to have the county health inspector show up just 2 hours later for her annual visit. Heidi, MED and Martha were pulled in multiple directions. Both visits had spectacular outcomes thanks to the hard work of our entire team: administration, staff and campers. We passed the ACA visit with 100% compliance, and we received a 98.5 on the health inspection. It does not get much better than that!

Since my team is so great at the details of camp, I was in my office this morning when a camper brought me a gift she made in ceramics class. Charlotte knew the hosta was a favorite plant of mine, and she used a leaf print to define her work. The glaze is a combination of green and brown, and as you can see in the photo, it is a beautiful gift: the personal investment of one person for the pleasure of another.

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It just so happens that the Brevard Music Center is featuring a two week Aaron Copland Festival. The song, Simple Gifts, by Joseph Brackett, always features prominently in a performance of Copland’s works:

‘Tis the gift to be simple ‘Tis the gift to be free ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be And when we find ourselves in the place just right It will be in the valley of love and delight.

We are in the valley of love and friendship at camp, where we ought to be, and it is delightful.

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