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Monday, February 17, 2014

I ♥ YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

I love my camp.  I truly do.  No if's and's or but's about it. 

According to the marketing folks, camp is not only a place where children have the opportunity to become who they are meant to be, if you're lucky, it's also a wonderful feeling that carries over with you into your life years later.

The love I have for my camp is plain and simple and I have it for so many reasons. It's the character of the place itself. The land, the water and the air is different at camp.  It's as if you walk through an invisible stress detector when entering the camp grounds.  When you come through the front gate, you immediately feel less weight on your shoulders. There's problems out there, but for a little while, just for a moment, your stress is eased.    As you make your way down the camp road, there's the excitement in the air.  What will the camp look like?  What is new?  Is everything still there?  Slowly you see the back of the lodge and the entrance to the kitchen. The love I have for my camp comes from this connection to the place. This heartfelt connection is shared amongst many, many people besides me, so something right must be happening.   You take a first look into the lodge and it's a lot to take in.    In order to give character to kids, it has to have some character of its own and the lodge has just that.  At a closer glance you see the chestnut logs finely crafted together along with the steel girders.  Built in 1927 and 28, from logs cut and milled on the property, the lodge indeed, has character.  Spreading from building to building, from Arapaho, all the way to Ticon Cabin, from The Estate to The Nature Lodge, each building has seen it's share of experiences in them and all add to that character of the camp.

I love my camp for other reasons as well.  It's the fact you know it continually has an impact on peoples lives.  It's a place where there's always improvement-in-practice, both in the structure as well as the people that attend. Kids learn it's okay to be themselves as people will like and appreciate you for it.  Some come out of their shell, while others learn to relax a little. They are all heard from equally. Those little quirks you have? Camp loves them and there's no embarrassment in sharing them!    
It's experiencing the opportunity to fail and then having support as you try again.  It's witnessing the mentor advise the mentee.  It's watching groups of kids of all ages, sit and talk with each other and enjoy themselves.

I've seen people excel at camp, both kids and adults too.   Camp teaches you.  You learn new skills. You listen to people.  You take part in something that perhaps scares you and you're better for it.  You see yours and the other person's value as part of the whole big picture.  And all of those affect you in life years later.  

I love my camp for the people I've become connected to through it.   It's people of all ages, races, gender, etc. that camp has attracted and I've connected with through the years that make it so special. On top of that, when you witness the dedication of the volunteers past and present, the camp staff through the years, and friends and family members who give and give and give some more, financially, physically and emotionally, that you realize it really is a big family on a whole different level.  There's the instant bond between two people that is created when you hear the word Segowea. That's when the conversation begins.  There's the years attended, cabins you stayed in, similar activities held, sharing a story or two. You both leave the conversation with a smile on your face and a heartfelt connection.   

I love my camp because of the little reminders I get about it throughout the year:
Hearing "Cat's in the Cradle" or "Stairway to Heaven".
Getting an unexpected message from an old camp friend.
Seeing random pictures of camp pop up on a screensaver.
Having a dream where I'm sitting on the front porch of the lodge.
Seeing someone with a Camp T-shirt on.
Having someone ask me about my camp T-shirt.
Hearing someone talk about the Smith Brothers.
Hearing a conversation where the word "Campish" is used.

I do love my camp, for all these reasons and more.  I am lucky enough to be able to be a part of it for 38+ years now with more to come I hope.  I've taught to it, learned from it, and will always be connected with it.  I have to say-