In July, I had the opportunity and privilege to visit a number of ACA camps in Southern California. Visits to camps are always inspiring. This trip was particularly enjoyable because I was given the opportunity to not only spend some quality time with camp owners and directors, but I was provided additional discussion time with counselors.
These young people are without question the best ambassadors and champions for the camp experience. They understand the intrinsic value and importance of the camp experience for youth. What I was also impressed with was their ability to articulate what they are gaining from the experience: leadership, ability to listen, contribution, problem solving, humility, joy, and friendship.
Amidst all of their impressive, thoughtful expressions of purpose and promise, I was buoyed by their laughter and camaraderie. They shared stories, embellishing and editing with great artistry of language. They used words to paint impressionistic pictures that invited you into their community. If they take their enthusiasm about the camp experience out into the world, they will have the power to create a camp movement.
Finally, a young woman, expressing the beauty in the simplicity but magnitude of the camp experience, shared that just that afternoon, when she was working with a very young group of campers, she had let them follow a butterfly. I was struck by her phrase, "Today, we followed a butterfly." It made me pause — you see, just as a cocoon goes through a process of metamorphism to become a butterfly, this young woman was facilitating the metamorphism of young children into tomorrow's citizens. Sometimes it’s as simple, and as difficult, as following a butterfly.
Photo courtesy of Camp Howe, Goshen, Massachusetts