ADAPT

Adapt

Verb (used without object) to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.

As we close out session number 3, I have become so very aware of the many ways we have had to adapt this summer. For the most part, the adjustments have been relatively simple, but impactful. Some changes have had very positive results, and others have challenged us. We cannot help but be creatures of habit, and our strong sense of tradition leads us to want to continue doing things the way we always have.

On the positive side, this was the perfect summer to spend more time within cabin groups. After coming off of months of staying at home and minimizing contact with others, the girls were so thrilled to be able to be with a mix of friends, both old and new. Our cabins were households: mask free zones where camp life felt the same as in years past: hanging out on each other’s beds, chatting freely, linking arms and giving the occasional hugs. If they were on their own walking a trail, floating down the river on an inner tube or enjoying time around the campfire on their cabin overnight, it was hard to tell that it wasn’t 2019. The cabin groups were closer than ever. The girls enjoyed a stronger sense of belonging after suffering through months of isolation. Their souls were fed.

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After 37 years of leading Keystone, I found myself struggling a bit, and it took me a while to figure out why. We had our girls here; we had an amazing staff; everyone was having fun; we were COVID free…what could be wrong? I missed our oneness.

Keystone has always been a small camp where everyone knows everyone else. Try learning names and faces when the faces are mostly obscured and you can’t breach the cohort of the cabin. At campfire, instead of calling the girls by level for group pictures, we rearranged and recognized the girls by cabin. We also missed draping arms across each others’ shoulders as we sang some of our favorite campfire songs. This was also true of assemblies, which we held on the tennis courts. Taps happened in individual cabin group circles, when in the past, the entire camp would gather in a single circle, holding hands and singing together.

Mealtimes were always an important time of togetherness. There used to be so much singing in the dining hall, and the girls would be assigned to different tables each week in order to get to know each other. A mixture of ages would be at each table. It didn’t take long to learn everyone’s names that way. This summer, we set up shifts in the dining hall, but we never seemed to end up with all of second shift arriving at the same time. It wasn’t unusual to find ourselves singing grace with 2-3 cabins out of 8 in the room. It took some practice, but everyone eventually made it to the meal. By week two, we got it figured out.

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Tonight is our final night banquet. Our Aide Leadership girls are the hostesses. They have spent the past two weeks planning, making decorations and writing toasts to honor all those who work to make the session happen. For many of our Aides, they look forward to this task for years, and…we will be eating in shifts. It isn’t our ideal, but it works for us this year.

So, this has been the summer of ebb and flow, of adapting. I am so proud that we were able to adapt to the extent we did to open camp for our girls. Overwhelmingly, we hear how disappointed they are when the session reaches its end. What more could we ask for from this summer? They want more of the togetherness, the activities, the camaraderie and the joy, just what they want at the end of every summer. Our staff, including counselors, administration and year-round employees, needed camp. We needed to see the girls succeed and find happiness in order to feed our souls.

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COVID has darkened our world. Since early March, we have been scared and challenged by this virus. Unfortunately, there is no indication that life will return to the familiar anytime soon. However, the bright spot is that camp happened, and it will happen again next year. We can continue in our mission to provide a place for girls to learn about themselves and to become strong resilient individuals in a world that will continue to challenge us.

These girls have attended camp; they have laughed with abandon; they have enjoyed their friends, and they did it all in the middle of a global pandemic. What a success story for 2020!

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