2021 End of Season Letter
August 20, 2021
Dear Campers and Parents:
Bro. Kenneth, one of our past Camp Directors, always told me that until the last camper left camp and arrived home, he could not relax. I felt much the same way this past Saturday as campers were picked up or brought to airports. The challenge of opening camp was the first thing I thought of in the morning and the last thing I thought of when I got into bed. With my batteries still on the charger, I decided it would be a good time to reflect on the past summer season.
Allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for entrusting us with your children this past summer. I imagine it might have taken a great deal to make that decision in these trying times. There were times when I watched campers at activities, in their cabins or at the Mound just simply having fun and I smiled. Their joy brought me a sense of satisfaction because WE all had a hand in that success. Things were different, of course, but they all adjusted quickly. The campers longed for the way camp was, but were able to begin to see the positives as well. It seemed to me that many life lessons were learned this summer by all of us. I hope you recognize these in your children as well.
Hands down I am most proud of our staff. They were simply amazing. I would like to share why I confidently make this claim. We were unable to get the staff we hired in Europe to camp since the J1 visa program was suspended in many countries. As a result we had no kitchen support staff nor the maintenance support staff. How did we successfully handle this? We met with our staff and presented the dilemma we had – open or close for the summer. The entire staff including the admin team all agreed that we would all share the duties of those missing staff. This meant not only running their activity but everyone committed to 3-4 assignments in the scullery doing dishes, washing pots and cleaning the dining hall after each meal. Best of all the staff bought into the Camp Marist mission. We know that without their generous willingness to go above and beyond, we would not have been able to open. We also put out a SOS to the Camp Marist community and had about 10-15 past staff members sign on for whatever time they were able to join us. As if all that was not enough, they also bought into the protocols for staff days off – masks on when called for, limited public contact, stores for necessities only, take out food, hikes and other outdoor activities and so on. They sacrificed for the greater good. The staff was young and had to learn on the run starting with our two weeks of staff development. Their youthful exuberance made for a great summer. So, yes I am very proud of these young members of our starr who put the needs of our campers above their own preferences.
That’s not to say everything was perfect. Despite all our preparations, we still faced some challenges as campers transitioned from many months of isolation, independence and autonomy towards a community setting with accountability. This was especially true during the first session with some disruptive campers. We got ahead of it but a little later than we would have in other years. Nonetheless, this summer allowed campers to reconnect with each other, with nature, and with themselves, and we watched so many of them thrive in our program.
Again, we are grateful for your trust in us – in our handling of the real and ongoing health crisis, in our development of unique programming to accommodate safety precautions while maintaining the fundamentals of what makes camp meaningful, and in our staff for caring for your children for weeks at a time. We appreciate your involvement throughout the year in our monthly parent Zoom meetings, and in the post-season in sharing your own reflections and evaluation of the summer. We are hopeful and confident as we look towards the summer of 2022 and we look forward to having you with us again. Feel free to contact me as we move into the fall and send out information about our Early Bird Registration and other incentive programs.