Powerful Role Models at Camp Kenwood and EvergreenAugust 2, 2014
Powerful role models at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen
Like an Eagles’ song today just had a peaceful, easy feeling to it. At 7am I was down at the Evergreen waterfront with our Polar Bear swimmers and Adventure Dave. After 10 jumping jacks everyone dove off of the docks. Unlike two weeks ago, the water was much chillier, and with great delight everyone began shrieking and laughing. Afterwards, we had pastries and hot chocolate provided by Chef Leonard and his team.
Just after breakfast the Kenwood freshmen returned from their amazing Belle Island canoe trip. They couldn’t wait to tell their friends in the sophomore unit how happy their were on their trip, which was a good thing, because that group departed on its trip moments later. The weather in NH was amazing today, and right now the sophomores are peacefully sleeping under a blanket of stars on a private island all to themselves.
I observed so many great activities today. I watched our Tennis director Fernando Paiva run a strategy and placement clinic with a group of girls who really have taken to the game this summer. Later in the day our assistant head of tennis Cass Walsh ran a fantastic lesson with our freshmen girls on how to properly serve and return serves. Cass made the lesson both educational and fun, and really modeled for our girls why this is such a great sport to play. I also saw boys and girls of all ages climbing the many trees of the ropes course. About 3 dozen rode the zip line, and many completed the space loops element for the first time, too!
Because of the beautiful weather there were also lots of boys and girls taking out bikes with their counselors, enjoying the many miles of mountain biking trails that wrap around our property. Friday was also a CrossFit day. Campers were jogging in groups with lightly weighted rucksacks, singing funny songs to help motivate them.
Here at our summer camp in NH we want every one of our campers to know that they are cherish members of this community. Each unit has its rituals and routines to help people feel valued. Last night the Kenwood juniors had a very special campfire. They traveled to The Ledge, a campfire area on the far side of our property, just above the rock climbing wall. Once there, they lit a fire, and their unit leader Andrew Fisher led them in a bonding ceremony. If you haven’t met Andrew, he’s super athletic, really smart and super popular. He’s also utterly dedicated to helping every camper in his unit feel that they are their best self while at our summer camp in NH. He’s a fantastic role model for our boys.
They talked about their favorite moments of the summer, about what they hoped to accomplish over the next two weeks, and how important they had all become in each other’s lives. Then Andrew took out a long, thin rope and wrapped it around each of their hands. Cutting the rope into small pieces that could become bracelets, he asked them to wear them for the rest of the summer as a sign of friendship and brotherhood.
It reminded me of the closing line of the novella Stand By Me: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
Tonight was our weekly Friday night service. Feeling very sentimental about Camp and our community, I decided to do something a little bit different. Rather than reading something that I had written, I brought out my guitar and sang everyone a tune called “Right Field”. It’s all about knowing that you have something valuable to contribute, even if you aren’t the most skilled member of the team. It’s a great song with a perfect message for our community, and I heard it for the first time when I was 9 years old, when a Kenwood counselor named David Lawrence sang it at a campfire. Three of David’s daughters will be graduating out of Camp at the end of this summer. Tonight, I wanted to share this beautiful, poignant song with the current members of our community, and make sure that his children were aware of the impact their dad had on my generation of Kenwood and Evergreen campers. Our camp has a wonderful tradition of counselors being powerful, positive role models. Thanks, David.