When Did Simple Get so Complicated
Years ago, the gentleman who teaches our staff First-Aid commented about what a wonderful illusion of a wilderness area we have here at Camp Mishawaka. He had driven in the green canopy of sheltering birches, past the stables, by the office and into the refuge of main campus. I did not know whether to rejoice or be repulsed when he followed up with the observation that our EMS response time is faster than the Mall of America. One would never know he or she is just a few miles from the town of Grand Rapids.
We have managed this geographic sprawl, though much to my displeasure the lights from the town have started to wash away many of the stars I saw as a child. To this day, on any given day, you feel like you are miles from nowhere when you are at Camp.
Managing some of the other creep has taken more time and energy than the advance of Grand Rapids. When I started as the Director of Mishawaka in 1992 we had one computer- an Apple IIe the used 5 ¼ floppy disks. We had a phone line (no fax) and the internet or cell phones were nothing more than science fiction. We picked up 80 or 90 campers from the airport without the aid of either. I did station the group near a pay phone in MSP and if the office needed to call with flight or travel update, I would pick up. Today it takes multiple phones, two laptops and repeated charging.
Today, for all the advances in technology (perhaps because of them) the process of preparing and running a camp is incredibly more complex. I don’t think I am just putting on rose-colored glasses, looking backwards at some golden era. Running a camp was challenging then, too. But because of our increasing dependence on complex systems, the journey to “simple” is further than it used to be. And it takes the work of many- staff, parents and campers, to make this happen.
I am grateful that just over 300 young men and women campers, and over 60 staff members have bought in to making this journey with us. We firmly believe that what awaits at the end of the journey still has relevance in today’s world. As my father used to say, ‘nothing worth doing is ever easy.’ I suppose our task pales in comparison to the “12” Doc Green came with to set up Camp (as the song goes) or any one of a number of challenges past Directors faced but when those kids step off the bus this Sunday we will be reminded, again, of the incredible opportunity we have been given to help a child find his or her best self.