I’m going to share the story of a young boy. In today’s educational realm this child would receive an “at risk” label. His father abandoned the family, his mother faced health issues creating a nomadic home life, and school and reading were a constant challenge. He has recounted childhood stories of being fearful, shoeless and hungry. Against all odds, this young boy grew up to possess a passion for nature, an ongoing sense of humor, and a deep understanding of the human spirit.
How could this transformation happen? Camp! Due to the kindness of others, he received a sponsorship to spend part of his summer at camp. For two weeks each summer, this young boy could forget any worries. He vividly remembers riding the bus to camp, sleeping in a cabin in the woods, warm oatmeal for breakfast, and spending his days swimming, canoeing or playing. Camp didn’t just give him the opportunity to play; it also taught him how to live with others. He remembers going toe-to-toe with a cabin mate and learning about compromise. Like the pieces of a patchwork quilt, these pieces of camp created, nurtured and helped shape his growing spirit.
At 83, this same young boy claimed a successful life journey. He was an avid preserver of all things nature. His sustained affinity to nature has influenced two generations. His children and grandchildren possess his spirit of play and reverence for nature. He was thankful for the camp that, in the smallest moments, gave him a warm bowl of oatmeal and a place to grow; and, I am thankful for my father’s ongoing legacy.