The Storm

We have had so many rainy afternoons this summer. Much of Transylvania County is a temperate rainforest with annual rainfall in excess of 85 inches. It hasn’t been unusual to come out of rest hour with rain pouring on our heads. In a 20-40 minute time period, we can see anywhere from an inch to nearly 2 inches fall down. When you add possible thunder and lightning, we alert the camp to stay in shelter until the storm has passed. We always hold out the idea of flipping our daily schedule so our afternoon activities have a chance to take place. The best part of it all is when there is just enough rain to raise the humidity so that when the sun comes out, you feel like you are living in a sauna. Ahhh, Western North Carolina in the summertime! At least the cool swimming lake is appreciated at that point!

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Storms can also be a source of fun. Dancing in the rain has been a particularly good source of joy this summer. We have also been known to sing in the rain putting Fred Astaire to shame. Cabin Fairview even managed puddle swimming on the tennis courts. There is no limit to the creativity spawned by an extended rainstorm!

Less than 24 hours remains in this remarkable summer season of the COVID storm. We are so proud of all we accomplished these past 10 weeks. Our adjustments were many, some simple, some more complex. The scheduling was challenging. The cleaning was constant. However, the rewards were tremendous. In writing my thank you notes to my counselor staff, I acknowledged what they gave up to help make this summer a success. We were so fortunate to have so many returning staff members who were completely committed to making our summer successful. Additionally, we are so grateful to our camp families for being willing to follow our requests for pre-camp screenings and for their transparency in possible COVID exposures. Our campers were amazing in their ability to adapt to masks, extra hand washing and social distancing. We also appreciate how easily they adjusted to doing everything as a cabin; a very different way of doing things than we have ever done at Keystone.

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This ride we have all been on since March has been profound in so many ways, and there is not an end in sight at the moment. We can all hope for a return to “normal,” but is there ever total normalcy? If I have learned anything in the past 37 years of running Keystone, there is always something new to confront or to manage. Life seems to delight in presenting us with new challenges or new opportunities. Oftentimes, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by what is in front of us. We have to be able to take life in small, manageable pieces; to figure out what we are actually able to do instead of focusing on what we cannot do. We have to keep our eyes looking forward; to find a way to live a life that brings us joy and happiness as we only have one. The storm of COVID has been raging for five full months. The hopes of it disappearing over the summer have long since left us. We have no idea what the school year will bring. What we do know is that we need each other. We have no doubt that our success with camp was a result of total buy-in from everyone involved. We have celebrated what we have done for each session of campers. Those of us in leadership have stretched and grown ourselves, discovering new

strengths and abilities we did not know we had. We have surprised ourselves with a new found resilience; the ability to go one step further when all we want to do is stop and rest. This summer required every member of our camp community to dig deep. Parents had to trust their decision to allow their daughter to go to camp. Our staff had to trust that we would take reasonable measures to protect them as they worked. Our campers had to be willing to put up with a new way of doing things at Keystone.

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Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain: When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. ~Haruki Murakami

A big storm, like nothing we have ever seen, confronted us this year. We know that new storms will be ahead. With solid preparation and careful decision making, we can navigate the storm and find the silver lining in the dark clouds. We did that this summer, and we did it well. We also know that our experience this year will allow us to be stronger next summer. Thank you for swimming upstream with us.

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