Do You Believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart?
How the music can free her whenever it starts
And it's magic if the music is groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul

~Lyrics from The Lovin’ Spoonful
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I wish you could see the scene out my window. It is late afternoon after activities have ended for the day, and the girls are gathered in various spots waiting for the dinner bell to ring. The largest group is our “pavement time” crowd. This group collects near the bell and the front steps of the office. Most are seated on the pavement, although quite a few are stretched out on their backs enjoying the warmth of the asphalt while one girl picks at a guitar. Another group is involved in a game of Gaga Ball. We have a small group stretched out over 5 steps on the way to a cabin. Another big group is around the flagpole to take advantage of the shade. For all of these groups, their Crazy Creek chairs and the latest friendship bracelet project hanging from their water bottle are the most necessary items to have. Conversations dominate. Friendships are solidified, and being a part of a larger group brings security and comfort.

This two-week session has its own personality, just as our previous sessions had. Our “August” girls have been waiting all summer to get to camp. They are very happy and easy-going. They find joy in each day. They do not feel pressure to push themselves toward specific goals. They love spending time at camp with their friends, both old and new. Camp is their reward, their rest, and their happy place before a new school year begins.

We spend a good bit of time at camp talking about magic: the magic of camp and the magic of childhood. Childhood needs to be protected. The world wants our girls to grow up too fast. We love living in our camp bubble each summer: no phones, no internet, no cell service, and no news reports. Let us be free to be ourselves, to enjoy everything camp has to offer.

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We work hard to provide elements of whimsy for our girls. We like to be silly. We dress up for no other reason than to have fun. Where else can you wear a pink flamingo on your head for an entire day and no one thinks it is out of the ordinary? Or perhaps you decide to wear an inflatable green costume like those seen along the side of the road at gas stations and stand waving from the office porch. Was there really a New Year’s Eve party at midnight? Remember that Christmas in July started here, at Keystone Camp in the summer of 1933 compliments of Miss Fannie, one of Keystone’s founders. We like creating fun and the unexpected. Life should be full of good surprises. It is the memories of happy times that give us hope when the harder times hit.

Camp offers a respite from the busy world beyond our gates. Here we are able to set aside the stress of school and the constant barrage of DM, IM, Instagram, and Snapchat. (At my age, I am sure I have missed an app or two in that last sentence.) Time at camp is time to be a child in a world created for children. We try to simplify life. We live in the moment, and we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It is our relationships with one another that are the most meaningful. I have some great conversations with campers as we share time together feeding my chickens. One of my personal highlights of this session happened as I walked past the tennis courts. A camper ran up to me to tell me, “I only have two more summers before I get my five year blanket, and I am going to stay here until I get to be a counselor!” All of that from an 8 year old! What a great gift she gave to me that day.

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We live for those gifts from our campers. The emotions behind those gifts fill our buckets. To know that what we do or have done has such an impact on our girls. We love filling the girls’ buckets each day by planning great things for them to do, and to nurture our relationships with them as their leaders. I believe it is important that children learn early on that adults other than their parents will invest in their individual success and happiness. From this, the girls develop trust in the people and the place that makes camp what it is. This then allows camp to become a magical, special place where they are welcome and they feel secure. We take great pride in awarding our five year blankets and our ten year pendants; 17 five year blankets in this session alone, and 17 ten year pendants across the summer. Our girls keep coming back because of the joy and magic that camp gives them in their childhoods. Thus, it is no surprise that an 8 year old has already planned her next 11 years at Keystone.

Yeah, do you believe in magic
Yeah, believe in the magic of the young girl's soul

~The Lovin’ Spoonful