Towering Pines Blog

Nearing the End

We are in the final stretch of the camp season, here in the Northwoods! In a few days, many of you will be paying us a visit to pick up your boys and get a little taste of all that has transpired this summer. I hope you have been having as great a summer as we have! Amidst the busy schedule and zany adventures happening every day, I’m finding a little time to sit and catch up with all of you (and my thoughts…).

It can get a little hectic towards the end. The boys start to get a bit antsy to pass ranks, prove themselves, and generally squeeze as much camp goodness into their days as they can. This weekend we have coed show, horse show, ski show, and (I’m sure) you’ll have hours upon hours of stories told to you. As you brace yourself for the onslaught of tales, jokes, and exuberance; I’d like to remind you how important your son’s experiences will be for him. Both the successes and failures, the good and bad stories, will shape how your boy has grown and sees himself. Hopefully, those feelings will be positive, but not everything goes according to plan. Regardless, he will be better equipped to react to adversity and challenges in a productive way. All of these experiences feed into his identity, part of which is to be a member of a community and a team.

There’s a lot of spirit here at camp in the last week. We held our annual Olympic games (Greece Lightning vs. Israeli Good!), which provides a lot of chances to build team spirit and promote values of healthy competition, not to mention good sportsmanship. But beyond that, the boys are all part of a bigger team.

Words like team, family, and community all describe close groups that share values and goals. In this way, they lend themselves to metaphors: We aren’t a family, we’re a team; we aren’t a team, we’re a family; our community is one big family! The relationship between these words speaks of the magnetism of close groups. We are social animals, and we do better in groups. This is how we learn and develop our sense of self.

What am I talking about? It’s team spirit week here. And the reason being that, with the end in sight, the boys might start to think about where they have been, where they are going, and who they are becoming. CITs will become counselors, cabin groups may break up, year-to-year, and the school year will bring its own challenges. But your boy will bring these experiences along with him and that team spirit, the feeling of being part of something beyond oneself, will give him pride and energy as he goes.

Whether I like it or not, it’s getting to be that time when I have to start thinking ahead to the school year, and I’m sure the boys feel a similar sense of sadness at the prospect of the summer ending so soon. But I, for one, take heart in the memories lived and lessons learned which will remind me of the different communities I belong to. Now if only I could take the woods, waves, and clear night skies with me back to Milwaukee…