Three months of my life are filled with the chaos of camp. It’s the good kind of chaos–the kind you find at a family holiday party when you’re simultaneously trying to greet seven people at once and make sure the pigs-in-a-blanket don’t burn in the oven. At camp, I’m surrounded by the campers, staff, friends, parents, visitors that make up a sort of adopted family, running from place to place with new deadlines and to-dos almost every hour. I won’t lie–sometimes the pigs-in-a-blanket get a little crispier than intended. I am everywhere at once in the summer, and that’s how I like it. So it would make sense that the rest of the year feels a little lonely in comparison.
It’s a shift we all go through. A switch flips and we are, suddenly, in camp mode. For some of us, that kicks in with the Spring thaw, knowing it won’t be long until the dining hall is again filled with the ruckus of campers. For others, it’s getting on the plane, or stepping onto Mishawaka soil and spotting our dearest friends. Or waving goodbye at your child through the bus window. Not goodbye, but “see you later.” Something happens–a transformation that is hard to articulate.
If your children have spent a summer with us in Northern Minnesota, you’ve probably noticed that they come home standing a little taller, more engaged in their daily lives, perhaps leaving their phone in the next room once in a while. Maybe they even make their beds without you asking! If you were a camper yourself, you experienced this first-hand. But if not, there is no doubt you’ve noticed the changes too. We all learn to stand a little sturdier on our own two feet when given the chance to change our surroundings and spread our wings.
For campers, what causes these transformations may be a duality of things. We are calmed by the opportunity to decompress and disconnect from the non-stop of the school year, the daily grind. And we comforted by the chance to be seen for who we truly are. Those things, paired with maybe just a little uncertainty, are what give us the chance to grow.
For the past few months, we’ve all been clicking back into our non-summer camp day-to-day routines, distancing from the shared experience that is Camp Mishawaka. Lucky for all of us, we don’t have to wait all year to revisit those summer transformations. Our annual Winter Road Show is upon us, and we are excited for the change to reinvigorate ourselves with some Mishawaka familiarity.
I head to Chicago today, and on Sunday we’ll be at the Winnetka Community House at 1 o’clock sharp. Help us to relive the summer by joining us for a visit, and helping us fight the cold. And if you’re not a Chicagoan, check the Road Show page for our upcoming trips to Tucson, St. Louis, and DC. And if you’re from another town, and you’d like us to visit, don’t hesitate to ask!
See you soon, Mishawakans.
Greta Kovach, Associate Director