This “Camp is Home” sign (pictured right) arrived this week as a gift from a former camper and current Camp parent. She found it in a gift store over the holidays and decided, “I had to get it for Mishawaka.” The truth is and we all know, save for a few, Camp is not home, but it sure can make one feel at home, no matter how far away his or her house may be.
I was reminded of that Robert Frost line:
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
It’s not a perfect reflection of Camp—no one has to go to Camp, and we technically don’t have to take one in. But kids do come to Camp, and take them in, we do. Campers want to come, and we want to take them in. Frost’s line strikes me as a bit of a last resort, a duty to be fulfilled by your kin. Camp is more like a first step in finding a home and feeling at home, even when one is far from the structure of his or her daily life. And I think our community fulfills more of a promise to help children feel at home, than just dutiful obligation to provide food and shelter.
Eventually, we all “differentiate” (in clinical parlance) and leave our childhood houses, though the timeline may vary. What I think a traditional summer camp experience like Camp Mishawaka can impart, is a real sense of how to create a home—a welcoming space. How to make choices and explore our limits: who we trust, how we engage with the world and our surroundings—all essential skills in creating a comfortable space for both ourselves and others. As physical space, Camp Mishawaka is simple and furnished sparsely (though not spartanly!). As an emotional space, it is richly furnished.
Any number of clichés about home come to mind right now and I will do my best to avoid closing with one. The simplest way to express it is perhaps that Camp is Home to so many, because so many make it home- for themselves and others. With less than 100 days still the start of Camp, it is almost time to come home. See you soon.
Steve Purdum, Executive Director