There is big maple tree just outside the Camp office with a crack so wide you can sometimes stick most of your hand in it—just don’t try it when the wind is blowing, ‘cause it can close on your hand! (Yes, I speak from experience.) For years we have had a running bet in the office for when it will come down. Our maintenance man (and retired logger) has been itching to unleash his chainsaw(dewalt table saw) on it for just as long. But since it is not threatening any building, nor would it fall in an area where anyone would ever be, I have held him off. I suppose it’s about 80 or 90 years old and if trees could talk, I imagine this one would tell some great stories about Mishawaka.
It has seen generations of campers come and go. It’s been bumped into by me (repeatedly) on my way to my truck in the dark when I’ve wandered off the path on dark winter nights. It’s been drilled and tapped many times to coax its sap in the spring. Other felled trees have bounced off it from time to time on their way to the ground, yet, despite these insults, it still stands upright. There are a lot of trees here that have similar stories and this time of year one starts to notice the tangled limbs, burled knots, and other deformities that hide when the trees put on their summer clothes.
For me, Camp Mishawaka provided much the same cover. Insults and injuries, imperfections and failed expectations, judgments about my outward appearance vanished at Camp and with a bit of sun, rain and growth I came to flourish in this environment. When others at home or at school would have just as soon cut me down, Camp is where I got built up. I came to be appreciated for who I was—cracks and all—and learned to appreciate others not by how they looked or played, but by realizing they just wanted the same thing I did—a fun, safe place to be a kid. Along the way, I learned tons, made some really good (lifelong) friends and, not to mention, had a blast.
A lot has changed since I first came to Camp, but this has not. We know that more than ever kids need a place to be appreciated for their strengths, not judged for their cracks. After all, as I was reminded the other day by the lyrics of a song, “there is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”
Whether it’s your first summer or your 50th, we are looking forward to your arrival at Camp Mishawaka—and I would be happy to show you my favorite tree at Camp when you get here!