June 22, 2011

I got an email this morning from one of Hayward and Burgess's creative geniuses. It was sent to all of us diehards that couldn't be there this summer basically letting us know about a plan he had to create a video of us all giving advice to the new staff this year and letting them know how much they need to appreciate the precious time they have there. It's so nice to know that I am not alone in how much I regret not being there. Here is the letter:

Dearest Burgess and Hayward family.

Summer has landed on spectacle pond and for some of you it’s good to be home, whilst for others this is all still very daunting. But we can assure you this summer will change you for the better.
This hidden treasure you’ve stumbled upon will be home to you soon enough and in an instant you’ll be fighting the tears as you come to say goodbye to some of the closest, funniest and let’s be honest - strangest friends that you will hold onto for life.

There's people sat among you right now that hated their staff over night and were scared of all the cult- like singing, that are still here 5 years on. So whether it's instant or a slow process, you WILL leave calling this place home!

Ultimately it takes courage to accept this position and to do your best. We ask only that you have faith in yourself and in the others around you. You are here to develop as a person.

So us voices of the past want to say to you, do not waste a moment, it’ll be over before you know it! Some of you will know us as friends and colleagues, maybe we were even your counsellors in the past, but all of us get the camp blues by not being able to be with you in one of the most magical places you’ll ever have the honour of living.

So here are some words of advice...
-         Laugh with your cabin as often as you can. This is summer camp not school.
-        Challenge yourself. If you’re terrified of heights, water or insects, embrace the chance to conquer your fears with your kids – they’ll help you through it and respect you more for trying!
-        Sing loudly, if you don’t lose your voice during co-ed days, sing louder!
-        Dress like you’ve never dressed before! And don’t be scared by the power of paint!
-        Don’t let it get you down when your squirty chicken fails to squirt.
-        Surprise your kids. Do something they’ll never expect and they will never forget you.
-        Expect tears. You’re all so close at camp that emotions are heightened, sometimes for good, sometimes for the not so good, but take a step back and take a deep breath.
-        Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in front of your campers, the advice and comfort of an 8 year old can be the most comforting of all.
-        ‘Hey Andy....Hey what... Can you do it?!’ never gets boring!
-        Never underestimate the power of no hands dinner, it’s the simplest way of making your cabin laugh and bond, and they’ll soon forget that they miss home.
-        Remember each session is the 2 weeks your campers have been waiting for all year.
-        Don’t be afraid to act silly - the kids will love you for it and after all, it’s camp!
-        No matter what anyone tells you, after all the energy it will zap from you, starting Rise and Shine "from the top" will ALWAYS be funny.
-        Never let late nights, early mornings and rushing to CAPs let you stop and look around you. This place is good for your soul so drink it in at every opportunity.
-        Allow others to know you and see your light, your weakness... expose the strengths of others. Yin and yang.
-        Learn which days are ‘C-is-for-cookie’ days- it’s such a shame to waste a pop-stop!
-        Collect keep-sakes…when it gets to winter and you’re pining to be back on the dock, that bracelet someone made you will be the inspiration for you to arrange a get-together
-        Enjoy Hyannis Mall – Vampire Weekend are right – it IS a ghetto, but it’s your ghetto for the next 3 months and we still miss the frozen yoghurt from the food court
-        Get to know everyone – and we don’t just mean the loudest or the coolest – we mean everyone! Some of the quietest people are just waiting to be discovered
-        Camp is the most accepting place you’ll ever find. So shake off the pressure of being cool and looking good- here no one cares so embrace it and be yourself!
-        Be a ‘yes man’ – if someone gives you the chance to try something…try it! Even if it doesn’t work out, at the very least you’ll have a story to tell
-        Observe others, make a note of the good things you see every day in your campers and colleagues, make it a target it tell each of them just ONE good thing that you saw them do today, it helps us to make a meaningful connection.
-        Who knows when you’ll be back here? Do anything and everything you can to make sure that even if you’re only here once, that one time is enough!
-        And remember, you’ve got a summer ahead of you when you’ll have the sun on your back and time on your side – these really are the best days of our lives

So there you have it…advice from people who’ve been there, done that, and who’ve got 6 of the t-shirts! Take our advice, ignore it or laugh at it- it doesn’t really matter seeing as you’re gonna see it all for yourself as you have the time of your life

You’re about to make some precious memories. Be excited! It’s hard to put into words just what camp does to you - you’ll discover things about yourself that you never knew before, you’ll find yourself acting in a way you’ve never been comfortable acting before.

You’ll soon be responsible for putting so many smiles on so many kid’s faces- and that’s something you’ll forever be proud of. Don’t underestimate the influence you will have this summer, not only on the kids, but on each other. Never underrate the potential you have as a positive role model. Embrace it.

We’d like to wish you all the best of luck and ask you to make the most of every moment over the next few weeks- we’ll all be thinking of you wishing we were there!
Have faith and confidence in yourself and trust your judgement.  Inspire
And lastly, open your mind, open your eyes and open your heart to the incredible experience that will be Camp Burgess and Hayward Summer 2011.