By Aaron Selkow, Owner/Director
Preparing for this week’s special Campfire (called the “Varsity Campfire” because it allows our Varsity teens the chance to facilitate the weekly camp-wide gathering) came with great anticipation. I listened in a bit (kind of secretly!) to the plans and heard some of the cool things they were planning, and I looked forward to sitting in the Basketball Stadium to watch our weekly highlight video with the whole camp and then head to the Campfire Site to watch the Varsity teens take over. That part alone makes it awesome, as I was to have no role tonight other than to enjoy listening and joining their first chance to lead something as meaningful as our weekly Campfire gathering.
The community was treated to an amazing Varsity Campfire. They performed so well and brought the spirit out of our campers and staff to mark the end of our second week of camp. Since the program ended, so many people are talking about how well they did, and they should be feeling really proud.
But I missed it.
Being unable to sit and witness our young leaders and their staff do something great is one of the most important things that I could have been doing tonight, and really at just about any time. It is also one of the gifts of being in charge of a camp. Unlike parents or others that can only hear about or see still images of some of those great moments, I get to watch in real-time and be fully a part of it. But I’m also running a summer camp. And today was a day with lots of moving parts and one particular project (the decision, communication, and ongoing planning of some changes to 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th-grade trips this session) needed my attention until now (you can read an update about this in a separate email sent to all families). This kept me away from a great moment, but I accept that sometimes I will have to do something that I would rather not do, and sometimes I am dealt a hand that feels a bit unfair and I know that I have to just press on.
Ironically, that is also what our Varsity teens had to deal with today. Just hours before needing to get up in front of the whole camp and show everyone how much they love this place and model leadership for others, they learned that some of the trips that many of them had been looking forward to all year (some Varsity participants have waited for many years to experience these trips, really) would be changed. Another summer dealing with unique protocols and the concerns of our community’s health and the “greater good” informed my decision to pivot from these long-anticipated trips with multiple days spent many miles away to day trips that would not extend beyond the types of experiences that we have already executed for campers this summer. They would still have so much opportunity for fun, but it is a change. Change can be hard. And then a short time later they needed to stand before the campers that look up to them and lead a Campfire that people really care a lot about. And they nailed it.
Next week will bring another Campfire, and I am hopeful that I will have the ability to be there. But today I can only give my apologies and offer my deep respect and congratulations to the Varsity teens and their staff that set aside any feelings of uneasiness for being great examples of what Chestnut Lake is all about. And I guess I can join all the parents that will be hitting “refresh” tomorrow on the Campanion app to see the pictures.