The Man on the Moon
I found myself on the roof of Larsen Lodge last night- replacing one of the wifi signal boosters that run through Camp so we can access our camp management software. No- campers do not have access to this 😊! The booster is attached to an old television antenna – 50 years old, to be exact. It was installed by one of my predecessors for the sole purpose of being able to receive live footage of the moon landing in 1969. I don’t recall the last time it was used for the purpose of receiving a TV signal, but now it serves as a sort of broadcaster for a medium that connects us to the world.
Two of our staff members, Jim Gardner and George Lottes, were here that night- huddled around a black and white screen that probably measured no more than 15 inches. George recalls not being able to see much on the screen that night, but recounts vividly the experience of leaving the lodge, looking up at the actual moon, and being awestruck that this was even possible. As the moon guided them back to their cabins that night, they wondered aloud about the universe and the world outside (and above) of Camp. I suspect that at that moment they felt both a sense of place-being at Camp, and more than a little nervous excitement about what lay beyond.
Camp has always been a grounding experience, and from the first moment campers step off the bus on to the campus, this small step can indeed become one giant leap. The connectedness that all those satellites and wifi provide us is truly amazing, but to my knowledge it has not replaced the value of simple human connection that one can find at Camp Mishawaka. For some, the trip to Camp is no less ambitious than a moon landing. Campers come from 25+ states and 7 foreign countries- and for some, it represents the first-time leaving home for an extended period of time. It’s not that Camp provides a view from above like those first astronauts saw, but it certainly invites a view from astride. It provides an opportunity to develop not only a sense of place and sense of self for campers and staff, but in no small way helps put the world outside of Camp in perspective for all of us.
For parents it can be just as momentous, and we thank you for providing this opportunity. As we all have become accustomed to constant digital connection, going “radio silent” with a child can be difficult. Tonight as you gaze at the moon, know that we all will be gazing at the same one, thinking not only about what has come before, but also the future possibilities for these young campers we are lucky enough to host each summer.