The rhythms of camp life
It's hard to believe the 2nd session is already half over... which means we're about to hit the closing stretch of the 2021 summer. It's about this time that many of our special events, which campers are always particularly excited about, start to get added into the routine, and it feels like camp starts to race toward the finish line. So, it's important to look back at the days during the summer when everything is simply in a rhythm, and time seems to stand still (if it's considered at all).
Each morning and afternoon, campers get to sign up for the activities they want to pursue, whether it is to go for an award, to try something new, or just to do something fun with a friend. As the new campers in our 2nd session have learned, we have a variety of activities that have their own system of awards that offer attainable goals for a camper of any age. Archery, for example, begins with the "Little John" award, which is available to the youngest two cabins, the Mallards and the Eagles. As campers get more skilled, they can progress through the more demanding awards. But in each case, campers are empowered to take the initiative to begin going for an award, challenge themselves at whatever level they are at, and ultimately get rewarded for dedication and a willingness to learn. We also have plenty of opportunities for pursuing other interest, like working on a handicrafts project, playing chess with a new friend, or taking out a canoe for an afternoon of fishing.
In addition to our typical, regularly scheduled activities, we had a couple of fun events this week. There was a 5 on 5 basketball tournament pitching the Green Team against the Gray Team. Since we are not competing against other camps this summer, we've had a bunch of intra-camp Green/Gray games, which may bring out just as much healthy competitive spirit, if not more! Every boy is assigned to one of the two teams, and they are on that team for their entire Timanous careers. It's been fun to have more opportunities to play for our teams, in addition to the traditional games of Capture the Flag. Another hit was volleyball, held down at Beginners Beach, as well as "Boogie Castleball", which to the best of our knowledge is essentially dodgeball where you have to dance every time you aren't otherwise throwing or dodging!
The natural camp rhythms extend to life beyond our shores. The photos above are from our Katahdin and Rangeley Lake trips from last week. We are eagerly awaiting pictures and stories from our trips that just got back over the past couple of days. Our 2nd session upper bunkline campers journeyed to Mt Blue State Park, and a group of our oldest campers returned just a few hours ago from the 5 Day canoe trip to Aziscohos Lake. The early reports from the 5 Day are that the weather was unbeatable, filled with bluebird skies and clear waters. A highlight was a surprise, sunrise paddle, breaking camp before dawn in order to enjoy breakfast on a secluded island, before pressing on to the next campsite. As a counselor shared after returning, the community and culture of the 5 Day group was simply unparalleled, which exemplifies how tight a bond can form when you're out in the wilderness with a group of Timanous campers.
Our 2nd half lower bunkline campers got to go out on a trip of their own, on an overnight canoe trip to Hawthorne Point. While they were confronted with rain on their first night, they awoke to a bright dawn and a taste of what a Timanous camping trip is all about: being out in nature and having a joyful experience with each other, no matter what the weather or other circumstances bring. When they move up the bunkline and make it to Crows, these boys may even get to go on to a future 5 Day camping trip of their own. This is perhaps the most important rhythm, one that spans years and keeps campers coming back, summer after summer.
Chapel -- Thomas Walker
It’s said that when you’re speaking in front of a group, never to point out your own flaws, as that points the audience’s attention to only see that shortcoming. But truth be told, right now I’m terrified, my legs are shaking, my mouth is dry and my heart is racing. All I can hear is a boom-boom-boom in my ears. I’m taking a risk, I’m uncomfortable.
You probably know how I’m feeling right now. Maybe it was when you changed to a new school, at the end of a close game or even on your first day at camp. The things that make me uncomfortable, may be different than the things that make you, but I bet we have all felt this way. When you feel this way, you’ve probably left your comfort zone and ventured into a place where the future is unknown, somewhere where your prone to failure.
Often the first step to success, to enjoying something new is to take that first step, that leap of faith and place ourselves somewhere uncomfortable. But that leap isn’t easy, we second guess ourselves and often talk ourselves down to where its comfortable before our adventure has even begun. But that boom, boom, boom filling your chest and your head doesn’t need to be a sound that’s scary, a sound that signals your doing something you shouldn’t be; somewhere you shouldn’t be. Instead, let that boom, boom, boom be the sound of your own war drum, signaling the opportunity for something new, a door being blow wide to something amazing. Let those drum beats push you forward.
But just by taking that risk, our work isn’t done. It’s in our nature to just take a baby step out of our comfort zone, dip our toe in the water. But just by taking a step of our comfort zone, we haven’t assured our success, instead we have placed ourselves in the bullseye of failure and this is where the real work begins.
Unfortunately, simply taking that risk and stepping into the unknown isn’t enough, but is only the price of admission. Still an excellent start. Consider that a risk wouldn’t really be a risk without the potential for failure. And those failures will happen if you are tenacious enough to keep taking that first step. Sometimes when we take this leap of faith, we come out lucky, and everything goes swimmingly. But it also, more likely will take a couple attempts, a couple failures.
And to be frank, failure hurts it really stinks. I think often when people talk about the proverbial path to success, they mention failure being a stop on the path, but don’t really discuss about how hard that failure can be. How much it can hurt, how it can isolate you, make you feel ashamed for even trying. It can be an immensely lonely and crushing feeling.
SONG – Cats in the Cradle
So how do we deal with failure, how do we continue to push ourselves. Well, I believe one of the most important character traits that people posses is grit. Grit is a mix of both courage and resolve. You need to be brave enough to keep trying but have enough resolve to stay the course and keep at it. And you guys are really lucky, if you spend time at Timanous you can’t help but to develop this grit. And by the end of this summer, and the end of a long string summers here at Timanous you will find yourself with more grit than the average person.
But grit requires self-confidence, grit requires believing that you are enough and that you will get there. So, when you are faced with failure, remember that failure doesn’t have to be the final page in your book. You get to decide when to throw in the towel, and that power is an amazing one. It gives you exclusive ability to say when you’re done, that your happy with how your story goes. What an incredible thing, you can have grit, simply because you decide that you are enough and that you will keep going.
Don’t be ashamed of your failure, don’t just hide it away in darkest reaches of your mind and forget about it. Be honest about how it makes you feel, both with yourself and others. Put a name to both that feeling and the opportunity it has given you, the opportunity to improve. Don’t struggle alone and don’t let each other struggle alone. If you are struggling, accept help and if you’re lucky enough to be comfortable in something someone else is struggling with, offer help and encouragement. Remember how you may have felt on your road to where you are now.
SONG – Friend of the Devil
Leaving this chapel I have two charges for you. The first is time your faced with something new, a risk or something uncomfortable, take that leap of faith, let your own war drum lead you on an adventure, pay that price of admission to something amazing. It might not be easy, but if it is something that matters to you, once you start, don’t stop, keep improving, keep working hard and don’t get discouraged. Don’t throw in the towel until your doing it on your own terms. Your risk could take any forms, maybe it’s trying to make a new friend, attempting something new at camp, or retrying something you recently failed at. Even giving a chapel.
So on to my second charge, if you see someone in this situation, uncomfortable and trying, offer them help if you can, or just support them. If they have failed, cushion that failure, help them bear it, but also celebrate its necessity. If they have succeeded celebrate that with them as well, help them see their small successes. Either way, lift them up.
And I can tell you there is no better place to take a risk than at Timanous, it’s somewhere where these ideas are often second nature. We are both surrounded by people will lift us up and given ample opportunity to practice risk taking and grit.
SONG – Wooded Path
Look to this day. For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence. The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty. Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day. Such is the salutation of the dawn.
A Beautiful Day
We may just have had the nicest day of the summer! The first bell at 7:15 rang in a clear, crisp morning, with dew on the grass and the sunlight just sneaking over the tall pines on the field for flag raising. It warmed up throughout the day, but never got too hot, with a soft breeze blowing and sun shining throughout. For anyone in Maine today, it was a good day just for that, but campers at Timanous got to have a full day of fun activities on top of the nice weather!
It's been a great first week of the second half. This past Monday, 59 new campers arrived at Timanous for their summer session. The full-season campers did a fantastic job welcoming them into the fold. After everyone got settled into their areas, we gathered for the first time as a whole camp for dinner, and then a really fun evening up on the field for introductions and cabin bonding. Even though it's only been a few days, it seems as if we've been together for the whole summer.
The second half campers went through their orientation program, where they got to try a bunch of different activities while learning the rules of the road and all about award systems and projects they could make. As we're a rustic, outdoor camp, we always have to stay flexible with the weather, like when a big thunderstorm rolled through a couple of days ago and put a pause on activity periods. Fortunately, it was a brief storm and afterward the sun broke through the mist and water dripping off the leaves, and we got right back to our normal schedule.
Much like the first half, we have a series of awesome camping trips that go out all over the state of Maine. This week, we have a group canoeing and hiking in Rangeley Lake State Park, and another group who just today climbed Mount Katahdin, Maine's tallest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. We're excited to welcome these hardy trippers back tomorrow. As epic as the scenery is where they are now, there's just something special about the late afternoon sun sparkling on Panther Pond as you walk down the bunkline at Camp Timanous.
Chapel -- Michael Beam
I. Call To Worship
This is the day the Lord hath made.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord
Who made heaven and earth.
I need not shout my faith
Thrice eloquent the quiet trees
And green listening sod.
Hushed are the stars whose power is never spent.
The hills are mute, yet how they speak of God.
II. Be Kind
What a joy it is to be with you in green and grey
Cozy round a fire on this drizzly summer day
In times like these I can’t believe I ever could feel down
Listening as the raindrops fall in symphony all around.
But there will come a time, no doubt, when this is but a dream
And darker thoughts begin to sprout like reeds beside a stream
And if those reeds grow thick and fast they’ll dam your fluid mind
The buoyant lesson won’t float past -- the lesson to be kind.
You cannot bear it all alone
Be kind to yourself.
You’re always growing, never grown
Be kind to yourself.
The bar you set is in your head
Be kind to yourself.
Who you’ll become is still ahead
Be kind to yourself.
All you can do’s your very best
Be kind to yourself.
You’re loved ten times what you would guess
Be kind to yourself.
When life grows dark and full of clouds
Be kind to yourself
You cannot help but make us proud
Be kind to yourself.
III. SONG -- You’ve Got A Friend
And now please rise off your rear end
Turn to page 30: You’ve Got A Friend
IV. Growing Pains
The loudest sound you’ll ever hear is the voice inside your head
Your self-esteem (or lack thereof) is shaped by what is said
Since Falcons year I’ve journaled; kept a record of that voice
That led me sometimes to despair and sometimes to rejoice.
A mighty Falcon in ‘04, I frankly was obsessed
With the Woodsmen and the Voyageurs – you probably could have guessed.
I reckoned that the question whether I was good or bad
Was settled by the votes of boys, which in hindsight now seems mad.
The Woodsmen took me in that year, along with my best friend
I figured my internal doubts had finally reached their end.
That nomination proved to be a blessing and a curse
In some ways life grew better then, in some ways it grew worse.
For now my journal entries filled with agonized essays
On whether I in fact deserved this public camper praise.
The voice inside grew louder then; I’d hear it more and more
Suggesting I was good outside but rotten at my core.
First as a Falcon, then a Raven, Cardinal, and Crow,
Each year the record of my faults reliably would grow.
And as I wrote, I amplified the voice inside my head
So every page ignored the good and logged the bad instead.
One summer I neglected to earn any camp award
Instead enjoying hanging out but never feeling bored.
And yet when Banquet night arrived I felt a wave of shame
As if I’d wasted seven weeks – a summer down the drain.
And even as a mighty Crow I found it mighty tough
To look back on my camp career and think it was enough.
Why hadn’t I won that last game?
Or earned that spot on the Hall of Fame?
Or treated everyone the same?
I had no one but me to blame.
I wonder where this voice comes from, this darkness in the heart.
When did we learn to spurn ourselves? At what age did it start?
If you ask me (and no one did) I’d say it’s closely tied
To thinking that you know it all; a stubborn sort of pride.
What if of all you claim to know you only knew a part?
What might you learn if you’d discern you’re really not so smart?
Often what we take for fact proves fiction over time.
What’s true, what’s your reality will change just as did mine.
For as a mighty Mallard I considered myself wise
I knew that all my counselors had battled Russian spies
I knew that ancient dinosaurs lurked deep in Panther Pond
Not in the lane lines – there you’re safe – but only just beyond.
Of course, by Crows I’d grown, and so, that all seemed quite naïve.
I cringed at all the silly things that I once had believed.
And yet those things were just replaced with equally loose “facts,”
Like camp’s not about what you give but what you can extract.
And still today as an adult I struggle to concede
That life is not as black-and-white as I had once decreed.
That maybe things aren’t set in stone, that maybe I can grow
If I admit that there exist some things that I don’t know.
See, when you claim to know it all, then there’s no room for error.
The tyranny of surety becomes a reign of terror.
You can’t forgive yourself for that missed shot, that loss, that grade
Without admitting you have flaws -- of which you’re too afraid.
This day you are wiser than you were the day before.
However much you knew back then, at this point you know more.
But don’t set limits to your growth, don’t claim you’re fully formed
Lest tomorrow humbles you; consider yourself warned.
A tree does not know limits; it grows both up and down
Striving toward the sky above and deep into the ground.
It twists and turns, falls and rebounds in unexpected ways,
Adapting and persisting right up to its final days.
So too should we allow for growth that’s not just straight and tall,
Forgive the zigs and zags and splits; errors are part of it all.
The loudest voice you’ll ever hear is the voice inside your head
With practice, patience, modesty, it can be kind instead.
V. SONG -- The Weight
Now I ask you rise once more
To sing The Weight: page twenty-four.
VI. If Only You Could See Yourself
If only you could see yourself the way that others do,
You’d laugh at all the silly things you once held to be true.
Like how your Twilight up-at-bat made you a laughingstock
Or that it’s wrong to feel homesick, a feeling they would mock.
Or maybe you think you’re too odd; that you just don’t fit in
There’s no one who appreciates your quirkiness within.
You fear that you will be revealed a phony or a fraud
You’re barely able to maintain an adequate façade.
Too short, too loud, too slow, too old, you might think in your head,
You fill your mind with words unkind that no one ever said.
But I assure you: no one sees the things you’re fearful of
Cause here at Camp Timanous you are always known and loved.
We love how every summer you bring your authentic self
No posturing, no masquerading like you’re someone else.
We’re proud of your ambition, your initiative and grit
When tough stuff becomes tougher you resolve to stick with it.
We love that you can make us laugh, but also think, or cry,
We love that you can share your joy and make it multiply.
We love that you are vulnerable, someone we look up to
We model parts of our own lives on what we love in you.
We love you not for what you’ve done but how you make us feel
How at the mention of your name comes a grin we can’t conceal.
We love you on your worst days and we love you on your best
We love you for your virtues, vices, faults, and all the rest.
I wish I had a mirror at camp to show you what I see
To show how proud I am of you, how much you mean to me.
You’d puff your chest, you’d raise your eyes, might gain an inch or two
If only you could see yourself the way that others do.
VII. With A Little Help From My Friends
With A Little Help From My Friends, straight
Shall we turn to page twenty-eight.
VIII. Timanous Prayer
Together we give thanks for the joy of fellowship
For the beauty of our surroundings:
The tall trees, and sparking lake,
The life which teems around us in the woods.
The skies and clear waters.
We thank thee for the love of doing things,
For active bodies and minds alert.
For the excitement of something new
And the comfort of things which are old.
For all these we give thanks;
For the cool and quiet of evening,
The restfulness of night,
The glory of starry skies,
The new life which comes with showers,
For our elder and families who have given us our homes,
And for the trials which help us to know ourselves.
For all these, we give thanks.
IX. Salutation of the Dawn
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth; the glory of action; the splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every yesterday
A dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.
An epic close to the 1st half
It's hard to believe that some of our campers head home tomorrow. Three and a half weeks might seem like a long time to be away from home, but once you get to camp, the time can really fly by. This week was full of camping trips, special events, campers trying their best to finish up awards and projects, and squeeze every last drop out of the summer. For those staying the full seven weeks, there is so much positive energy and Timanous spirit they can carry forward for our 2nd session camper arrivals on Monday.
As a fitting sendoff, we had an epic final evening of the 1st half. Right after dinner, we all gathered on the hill beneath the basketball court to watch the talent show. There were pianists (classical and jazz), jugglers, hula-hoopers, dancers, comedians, and singer-songwriters. One of the highlights was a trio of Crows who led all who wanted to join in an enthusiastic a capella rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (yes, the full 6 minutes). We'll have to petition whoever votes for the Grammy's to make a trip up to Panther Pond next summer, there's some serious talent in the camper ranks!
Our progressive celebration evening continued down the hill under the big tent for our 1st half slideshow. While we had to move this from our traditional venue of Tattersall Hall, it was probably for the best given temps in the 80s and high humidity. With the sun dipping below the pines, the now friendly and familiar faces captured in the photos reflected back at camp from the tent above. From the opening days of camp, photos of every activity, down time with cabin mates, camping trips far and wide, and candid shots around camp, it was really meaningful to reflect on how much you can pack into even a half summer at Timanous.
Finally, we moved all the way down to Beginner's Beach to light the bonfire. It was awesome, as always! It was touch and go whether we would be able to fit this into the first half, given that you have to wait for the perfect stretch of weather to make sure the wood is dry enough to burn, but not too dry to create a fire hazard. Call it coincidence or call it fate, but the final night of the first half ended up being the perfect time to not only carry on this Timanous tradition, but also send off our 1st session campers in style.
As the closing of the slideshow said, we'll miss our campers who are going home tomorrow. We all hope the memories from 2021 will last a lifetime... or at least long enough to get them back to camp in 2022, maybe even for a full summer!
View photos in the Campanion App or in your CampMinder account!
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