A Culture is a collective enterprise to solve the problems of the day.
I was cleaning my office the other day and came across the above quote, scribbled on a post-it note. I am not sure where it came from. I know it didn’t come from me, but from something I heard or read and felt compelled to write down – so as not to forget it. It resonated for a lot of reasons, but chief amongst them was how it describes what we do at Camp Mishawaka each day in the summer.
As I think about how the culture of Camp Mishawaka gets created and curated each summer, I return to two things: the quality of our staff and the care that the campers themselves take in preserving and protecting an environment that allows them to thrive. Sure, there are 110 years of history, institutional memory and traditions that are the foundation of our culture, but each summer the members of this collective enterprise known as Camp Mishawaka are different. And, as a result the make-up, needs, goals and problems that we are tasked to solve are different. As an administration, camp professionals and mentors, we are privileged to safe guard this enterprise and ensure that a camp session is not only stable, but also responsive to the problems of the day.
The summer camping movement arose in the late 1800’s out of response to the need for children to have time in the outdoors and step away from the advancing technology of the day – things like electricity, urban crowding and the automobile! Fast forward more than 100 years and the technologies have changed, just as the Camp Mishawaka culture has evolved to respond to the needs of today’s campers.
Some of the problems are simple to solve…. “ugh, I forgot to turn in my laundry and I need a shirt.” Some require a bit more thought and effort and, truth be told, many of them are not so much solved, as they are resolved or identified. Camp gives kids a framework for problem solving by letting them practice solving them in a supportive community. Much of this follows them far beyond their camper years. Campers get real agency in their own experience, they care for the Camp and each other as they safeguard this for themselves and others.
It is, perhaps, the most rewarding part of our work here as we help create the culture of Camp Mishawaka. We are grateful for the opportunity to help your child find this, and more, this summer.