I wouldn’t say that attending summer camp is a pre-requisite for leading a life of meaning. But if I trace my life backward, many, many meaningful experiences have their roots in my days at summer camp.
I actually hated being a camper. Maybe that’s too strong. But I was homesick, I didn’t make friends easily, I rope-burned my hands (and was too ashamed to seek first aid), and the theology was a little intimidating (I didn’t use the word “theology” at the time, in case you’re wondering).
But when my brother phoned me early one summer to inform me of two things: 1. that he had had to fire 4 counsellors for smoking at their cabins and 2. I would taking one of their places, I hadn’t foreseen the new trajectory before me.
Portaging canoes is where I discovered the depth of my strength and endurance — a discovery that would serve me well playing football, running marathons and competing in triathlons…and sometimes enduring board meetings.
The high ropes course is where I learned to confront my fear — I often draw from that experience when venturing into unknowns situations.
Playing the role of camp counsellor is how I discovered my leadership potential — which, of course, is a work in progress.
I shudder to think which of my capacities might have remain covered to this day had I said “no” to my brother on the phone that day. Fortunately, I said a hesitant “yes” and that has brought incredible meaning to my life to date.
And now to plan that next canoe trip…