April 27, 2023
Maybe this is your first ever camp experience and all of your expectations are based on scenes from the Parent Trap. Making the decision to come to camp is nerve wracking whether you’re a six year old who has never spent a night away from home or a student looking for a summer job. The adventure you’re about to embark on at Winaukee has the potential to be transformative. What that growth and personal development will look like is up to you.
The truth of the matter is that as much as I’d like to, I can’t promise much when it comes to what your camp experience will look like. I can’t even promise that you’ll love it more than any place else on earth, or that you’ll have any fun at all. Ultimately, I can promise you this: you will be challenged in ways you’ve never been challenged before; you will meet people from diverse backgrounds with perspectives different from your own; you will have the chance to practice skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life whether you’re applying to med school or backpacking through Europe.
Regardless of how you’re feeling as we approach orientation, here are some things to think about as you consider the kind of summer you want to have. At the end of the day–all challenges and setbacks aside–there’s only one person who can make or break your summer, and that person is you.
It’s so important to enter any new situation with purpose. As much as camp is about having fun and creating an amazing opportunity for the kids, it’s also about growing as a leader and becoming a better version of yourself. Take advantage of this time to focus on your personal goals. Think about the kind of person you want to be and what it takes to get there so that by the time you leave, you feel like you have improved in one way or another. Some days, you will experience conflict that may make you question your decision to come to camp. It’s in those moments that I encourage you to remind yourself of your purpose for being here, and how this experience fits into your life.
Get ready to step out of your comfort zone and buy-in. One thing all of us can agree on is the importance of leaving your ‘cool’ at the gate. Camp is a place where you can be yourself. It’s also a place where people come together from all over the world. Embrace that opportunity and come ready to do new things and learn. Introduce us to things you’re passionate about and pick up some new interests along the way.
Very few people have the chance to be a part of a community as special as the one we have built each summer at Winaukee for the past 100 years. Through all the ups and downs the summer is bound to bring, remind yourself to appreciate the opportunity we have to be together in such a beautiful place. As emerging leaders, cultivating a habit of gratitude can help us and those in our community to appreciate the good in their lives and focus on the positive aspects of challenging circumstances.
If you ask any returning staff members why they choose to come back, they’ll smile and tell you there’s just something about the place–something they can’t quite express in words– that you have to experience for yourself. Camp is a special chance to bring together a group of people that will form a unique bond. When all is said and done and you pack up your bags to head home, something will strike you deep down as you realize that this exact group of individuals who you have laughed with, made memories with, and worked with tirelessly will never exist together in the same place again. Camp is a unique and fleeting experience, and it is easy to get caught up in planning for what is next in your life. Don’t forget to slow down and be where your feet are.
Coming to camp with goals and a vision for what you want to get out of your time at Winaukee will help you leave with memories that will last a lifetime. My hope for you is that by the time you leave, you’ll look back on the experience and be proud of the effort you put into bettering yourself. I hope that you feel confident that you made the most of the opportunity we have to come together and build a unique community, and feel that you made a positive impact in your own way. I hope that you feel like there’s nothing more you could have done to make the most of your time at Winaukee, because I guarantee, come January, you’ll be dreaming of days on Lake Winnipesaukee.
MP, IP, Carpe Diem