You probably already know about our daily muffins, about how we have a baker who arrives early in the morning to bake a surprise flavor of muffin for everyone at camp to enjoy around 11am. It’s an exciting, homemade snack between activity periods that’s a highlight of the day for many of us. Word spreads pretty fast once the Hi-Ups pass the first muffin through the window on the dining hall porch, like today when a brand new flavor appeared: Cookie Crumble. They were amazing! Just look at them… huge chunks of Oreo cookie pieces in a soft vanilla muffin. Needless to say, all the extras seemed to disappear without a crumb remaining.
One of the coffee mugs here at camp —no doubt acquired at some point from the local Goodwill store— has three cartoon animals, a bear, a dog and a sheep, playing jump rope together, and proudly declares in red letters, “Fun is for Sharing.” More than just a cute mug, its message seems particularly true here at camp. After all, we share just about everything here and have great fun doing it. Like every true community, we do so much together— eat our meals, play, and create. We interact with each other all day, have conversations, communicating our insights, joys and frustrations. We wake and sleep at the same time. We open up to each other sharing our emotions, supporting each other with caring and compassion. We share the work of camp life too— setting up and cleaning up. While there are moments when we might enjoy time by ourselves, like reading on the hill or making a friendship bracelet in a porch rocking chair, more than likely we’ll be having fun with someone else or a group of people. Camp fun is inevitably shared fun.
Camp life is likewise a wonderful tangle of heart-felt relationships. It’s more fully human in that way. By always including others, by beginning with the ties of community, it helps us develop personal qualities that thrive in company. It provides real evidence of just how rich the world can be when it includes a range of perspectives, the unexpected quirks, and creative ideas offered by others. Life lived closely with others, as it is here at camp, is inevitably a source of humor, surprise, and many kinds of intense feelings. Never bored, we’re connected instead. Sure, being upset can sometimes be part of this community life, but with a basis of caring, kindness and generosity, we can work through that struggle too.
All good stuff, but there’s a habit that can form from all of this experience, and it’s a habit that I think you’ll appreciate. Maybe it survives only as a hunch, or a faint memory after the intensity of living in the camp community, but it’s this; being with others is the way to have fun. If you’re bored, then get together, be close. Rich entertainment comes through personal relationship. Camp teaches this lesson because we live it everyday. Our fun is that much better because we’re with others, not abstracted through an electronic device or flickering screen. So when you’re bored, do you reach for a screen, or do you look for a conversation with a real person? “Social” media is at best a weak substitute for real sharing, real fun. Maybe there’s not always someone around, but whenever there is, it can be fun. I hope that’s a hunch that can inspire us long after camp.
An example of this collective spirit happened tonight during our evening program when we held an all-camp campfire with an Appalachian mountain theme. This sort of campfire program is a tradition of sorts at Rockbrook called “Jug Band.” Akin to the old television show Hee-Haw, the counselors planned a variety show of songs, musical performances, skits and jokes. Of course, we included costumes and invited everyone to dress up with bandanas, overalls, hats and anything “country” they could think of. We sang lots of songs, like “Mountain Dew,” “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain,” and “Wagon Wheel,” for example. The campers helped tell some of the jokes too: “Why was 6 afraid of 7? …Because seven ate nine!” Sarah made an appearance dressed as “Granny” and helped lead several of the songs. Here in the mountains of western North Carolina, set in woods beside huge rocks and ancient trees, and glowing from the campfire light, we sang and laughed together into the night. Yes, it was a lot of fun. What could be better?