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Camp is over. Leaving hurt more than I expected given the number of times I leave places and how much I am accustom to the feeling. Two days have gone by and my thoughts are starting to drift from camp back to my work. But before they’ve drifted completely, I would like to take some time to reflect on what camp – specifically Camp Winnebago – means to me and why I continuously want to return.

  1. The boys. Winnebago attracts a certain type of boy. Not necessarily the boy who can, but the boy who will (as is stated in our motto). These boys may be rich – as all boys who attend summer camp are – but they are down-to-earth enough to go to a camp with no electricity in the bunks and no curtains on the showers. They show exemplary character at an incredibly young age. They are intelligent and (for the most part) aware. They continuously impress me, and I want to watch them grow over the years.
  2. The humor. This image is of me singing a song I learned called the Self Worth Song. The most notable line is, “I like myself, I’m worth a lot. I like myself, I’m worth a lot.” Every word is accompanied by an utterly ridiculous hand motion. Singing this song is comical, but it makes me happy and I enjoy it. So does every other person at camp.
  3. The outdoors. Natural beauty is brings out one’s inner beauty, and teaches one to shine when there is nothing but people and nature around.
  4. The sports. I love being active and I love playing sports. Thus, I love being at a place that encourages activity and sports.
  5. The sportsmanship. Many people say that it’s not about winning or losing but how you play the game. Most of the time, these are simply words spoken but not believed. At Winnebago, boys live these words. The best athlete in each division will encourage the worst. The campers will even encourage the counselors. I was playing softball (my worst sport) and I almost caught a fly ball but it bounced out of my glove. Instead of being angry that I missed the catch, all the boys on my team cheered that it was my closest catch ever.
  6. The counselors. Sure, some of the counselors like to use summer camp as a way to party every night. For the most part, however, the counselors at Winnebago are there for the boys. They know when to be serious and when to have fun. They like to teach and they like to learn. On the whole, the counselors are interesting and driven people that enjoy spending their time with 9 to 15-year olds.
  7. The lake. It is beautiful. Enough said.
  8. The character. Winnebagans in general have excellent character. Boys will stop what they are doing to help another. They care for each other, and they are genuine. They are positive and supportive. They listen and ask questions, and they value individuals for who they are. It is hard to find this much good quality character in one place at one time.
  9. The comfort. The vibe at Winnebago is one of the utmost comfort. Comfort in trying something new. Comfort in making a fool out of yourself on stage. Comfort in making new friends and in reconnecting with old ones. Comfort in being yourself, and knowing that everyone else will encourage and support you in everything that you do.

Winnebago attracts some of the best people I have ever met on so many levels. I find myself drifting back to camp so I can continuously surround myself with these people.

(Photo by Tom Hoegeman)