Good morning. It is an honor to be standing here today at this most esteemed lectern. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share a few words with all of you in this serene place. And, if I’m not mistaken, this chapel under the tent is a Timanous first. Even 104 years in, Timanous continues to innovate, adapt, and move with the times… Although the time we spend together here at chapel is quite different from the normal hustle and bustle of camp life, I encourage you to appreciate and enjoy this quiet space. See the calm moments we have here together as a chance to relax, to admire the natural beauty and tradition that surrounds us here, to hear the sound of the rain falling, and enjoy the company of your peers. This is a time to reflect, to sing songs, and to reconnect with the present moment—this moment. So, on that note, I invite each of you to take a deep breath, look around, and listen…Take the time to slow down, sit with your thoughts, and simply be at ease.
I love Sundays at Timanous. I think the change from our usual day-to-day schedule gives me a chance to catch my breath, to press the reset button, and to center myself. I look back at the week that just passed by, and I look forward to the days and weeks ahead. Believe me, seven weeks at camp will pass in the blink of an eye. And although I feel sometimes like the days blur together, Sundays remain distinct, marking the passage of the summer. We change our sheets on Sundays. We write letters on Sundays. We sing to the chefs, and we gather together as a whole camp, both here and at council fire. On Sundays, more so than any other day, I think, the T’s on our shirts are a visual reminder that we are all united in body, mind, and spirit.
Let’s be clear: each of us is beyond lucky to be wearing the Timanous T right now. To be a camper or counselor at Timanous is not only a pleasure but also a privilege. As we all learned last year, a summer at Timanous cannot be taken for granted. But, as fate would have it, we find ourselves here at Timanous this summer. Therefore we all have a responsibility to make the most of our time together. We are fortunate to be a part of this—to be included in the best community in the world. As Pineman said last week, many of the people sitting beside you, whether you know it or not, will remain your friends for the rest of your lives. So what are you waiting for? Get involved. Try something new. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself. To quote the great Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
SONG – Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival
As I was thinking about what I would say up here today, I realized something: I cannot possibly express everything that Timanous means to me in words. When I first arrived as a heron in 2009 I was a totally different person. Nervous, overwhelmed, and homesick, I remember feeling the whole spectrum of emotions during my first week at Timanous. It took a little while, but I eventually figured out how things work around here. One day, one of my cabin mates with electric blonde hair asked me if I wanted to go out sailing. At the time, I had never been in a sailboat before. And although it wasn’t even a windy day, I was scared. But I decided to go, and floating out there on a sunfish with Jimmy Banta was without a doubt the highlight of my summer.
When I look back at that experience, the first word that comes to mind is gratitude. I am grateful to my dear friend Jimmy for taking me out, for teaching me how to sail, and for introducing me to the spirit of inclusion that exists here at Timanous. The following summer, I had the pleasure of dining in the barn at a table with a young first year camper named Andy Thompson. When I talked with Andy recently, both of us vividly remember meeting around the table—and I am grateful for that experience too. I am grateful to have met Sam Hollister in 2011—even then he was a dedicated Red Sox fan—and I am grateful for the cookouts I enjoyed as a Crow alongside two Mallards named Archer Snell and Griffin Walsh. And in addition I am grateful for all the guys in green here who were once my counselors—Beamer, Dustin, Aidan, Jimmy, and Pat. Put simply, I am grateful to have grown up at Timanous. I am grateful to have been molded by the culture of mutual respect and kindness that campers and counselors cultivate here. I encourage each of you to take a moment now to think about the ways in which you are grateful.
SONG – For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
I have a message for anyone here wondering about his place at Timanous. Maybe you’re new to camp. Maybe, like I did, you feel overwhelmed by everything we do here. Or maybe, after skipping last summer, you’ve found it challenging to get back into the rhythm of camp life…whatever it may be, here’s my message: if you are willing to approach new things with an open mind, you too will feel gratitude for all of the experiences you will have here. Don’t wait—go for it. Say yes to everything. Ask questions. Dive off the tower. Sign up for beginners waterskiing. Please, gentlemen, do not be afraid to fall. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius wisely said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Now I want to speak to the returning campers. If you think you have this place figured out, if you are thinking to yourself, “nothing scares me anymore…” Well then I have news: it’s on you to be an adventurous, inclusive friend. Offer to take a new friend out in a sailboat and don’t take no for an answer. Ask someone if they want to play knockout one morning or hit dingers on the field during free time. Never let a friend walk up or down the bunk line alone. Say hello to folks as you cross paths between activities. Make it your business to help a new guy enjoy this place. And never hesitate to share your knowledge with those who could use it. And never hesitate to express gratitude to those who have helped you along the way. If you consider yourself a well-versed man of Timanous, then it’s your duty to introduce others to that spirit of Timanous that we all love so deeply.
SONG – Uncle John’s Band, Grateful Dead
Before we leave here, I have a challenge for each of you. Forget about the drizzly weather for a moment—take a second to sit back and observe…I challenge all of you, whenever you find a spare moment, to take a journey to our traditional chapel, lie down on a bench, and admire the tops of the trees. You’ll notice how the trees sway in the breeze. Despite their old age and enormous size, they are willing to move about however the wind chooses. They are flexible. But, if you look at a tree’s trunk back down on the ground, you’ll remember: these trees never lose their grip on the earth. They are sturdy and strong, with deep, deep roots. This sort of flexibility and strength is what I wish for each of you. Let us learn how to be flexible through windy conditions and strong in the face of adversity.
And finally, I want to close by stating the simple and elegant creed of the most righteous Bill and Ted. “Be excellent to each other.” If you are able to carry yourself with a spirit of kindness, inclusion, respect, and excellence, your days here and elsewhere will be filled with adventure and joy.
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.
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