By BJ Murray, Senior Operations Director
As we near the middle of September, fall is upon us. School has started. The grasses are taking on their autumn colors. The nights are cooler and the days are shorter. And though we’re looking forward to exciting events at camp this fall, we can’t help but reflect a little on this past summer. Enjoy these thoughts from BJ Murray, Senior Operations Director.
To reflect on the summer of 2016 is a difficult task. It was filled with so much good, so many friends and so much fun that it is difficult to put into words. But really, that is the whole point of camp on so many levels. It’s a spirit, a feeling, a place to be yourself. And unless you have experienced it first-hand, it is something you just keep talking and/or writing about until everyone around you gets sick of hearing about it.
Often I am asked, and sometimes even ask the staff, “What is it that keeps you coming back to camp?”. Ninety-nine percent of the time they, and myself, will answer “the people.” They love the other counselors they work with, they love their supervisors, and mostly, they love the kids. That’s what they are here for. But I think it becomes more than just loving the people at camp.
I think it’s the feeling that they get from serving other people. I think when you are living out the “I’m Third” motto (God first, others second, I’m third), caring for others and serving are what truly gives you that special feeling that you cannot quite explain. It is easy to talk about archery – you nock an arrow, straighten your hand with the bow, pull back the string (one finger on top, two below), line up your shot, and straighten your fingers. Easy. But how do you explain what happens around a campfire? How do you talk about the depth of conversation, the bonding, the laughter? Sure you can say it was a beautiful fire, but you just can’t give someone the feeling of the flames’ heat. Similarly, you can talk about being in the beauty of nature, but a picture can’t quite capture the pure beauty of a Flint Hills starry sky. It’s the same with camp. It’s hard to explain.
I say all this because as I think about this summer, it is those difficult to describe things, those friendships and connections, that I think about. I think about the spirit of camp that so many children and staff went home with in their hearts. I think about the tears (so much crying!) on Friday nights as campers said their goodbyes to the counselors and other campers. Those tears tell me that we got it right this summer. We did what camp was supposed to do. We gave campers a place to belong, a place to call a second home, a place to be themselves without worrying about judgement, a place to be a kid. It’s a hard thing to say good-bye to a place like that.
This summer was my first of what I hope to be many, many, many summers at Camp Wood YMCA. And this first one is going to be awfully hard to top. On the last day of camp before we even started this fall season, we were already 20% full for next summer and we have over 20 staff committed to returning (that is a big number for a camp and I would guess 75% of our staff from this summer will be coming back). I feel confident that Camp Wood YMCA will continue to grow not just in its numbers, but more importantly, in the impact we have on our campers and visitors. It is a very exciting time at camp.
It was a great honor for myself and for the rest of the staff to serve so many campers this past summer. I look forward to doing so again next summer. Have a great fall, everyone but I’ve already started my countdown to next summer.
BJ Murray, Senior Operations Director
As you start the countdown to Summer 2017, be sure to Pre-register online. With so many campers already signed up to return, sessions will fill up fast. Click below to reserve your spot for Summer 2017. It takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll receive a new camp t-shirt in the mail this fall!