Last Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs finally won the world series. As someone born in Cleveland, but raised in Chicago, I had a tough start to the series. My dad, and his entire family are Cleveland natives, while my mom grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I spent my formative years running around Chicagoland in a Sandy Alomar Jr. Indians t-shirt. These are the only two baseball teams I have ever rooted for. Both have had their ups and downs in my lifetime—certainly more downs than ups. Never did I think I’d have to choose between them, but at the end of the day, my blood runs Cubbie Bear Blue.
108 years in the making, the victory swept not only Chicago, but the entire country in a whirlwind celebration. Some of you may claim not to care about baseball, or Chicago, but it’s hard to deny the infectious joy that surged throughout the country in the wee hours of that morning. Cubs fans are lifers—wherever they may be. I think you can say the same about Mishawakans.
Coincidentally, 2017 will be Camp Mishawaka’s 108th summer. The last time the Cubs won the world series, just before Doc Green brought that introductory batch of boys to Minnesota’s Northland for the first time, broadcast radio was in the near-ish future, but still years away from practical use. No Twitter, Facebook, or television. No Wikipedia. We all had to sit, marinating in our wonder about Kris Bryant’s true height. (6’ 5”) The news of a Cubs victory mostly traveled by word-of-mouth in 1908. You probably wouldn’t have even known the players names. How lucky we are now, to be able to watch with bated breath and tears in our eyes together, even when we are apart.
When boys were sent to camp in 1910, the idea of “disconnecting” didn’t exist. What did was the urge to create a place to teach young men (and later women) to stand on their own to feet. To rely on each other, to embrace the world in which we live, to emerge a better, stronger version of themselves. For all that has changed in the last 108 years, for all the technology, and population growth, and ever-changing fashions (did you know scrunchies are back in?), it’s easy to see that the core of Mishawaka has remained. Our reliance on that—our need to be seen, welcomed, and embraced in spite of flaws and mistakes—is still there, maybe stronger than ever before, especially in youth.
I’m hoping you’ve seen that final play of game 7 at least once by now, and that you’ve watched the aforementioned Kris Bryant’s face as he goes to make that final play, biting back a victorious smile, knowing the championship is finally ours for the taking. It’s a face familiar to me, as I see it on kids at camp all summer long: during their first ascent to the top of the climbing tower, hitting a bullseye at the archery range, or dancing their heart out at a Kickball Dance Party.
What makes a Mishawakan? Or a Cubs fan? A uniting belief in a thing, maybe. Be it the sound the ball makes as it claps into the catcher’s glove on a perfect strike, or the act of jumping in the refreshing lake at the crack of dawn. Wearing your tribe’s colors-—green or yellow or Cubbie Bear Blue—and continuing to stand together, from the shores of Lake Pokegama and beyond.
Greta Kovach, Associate Director