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A view from the woods.

This summer I had the privilege of visiting a camp that was celebrating its 100th anniversary. While touring the camp, I was overwhelmed to discover in this "old" camp threads of innovation and forward thinking woven throughout the fabric of its deep, rich traditions. I recognized we are part of a learning, thriving organism called camp. We are a culture dedicated to life.

I visited the camp chapel. Sitting in the silence of the whispering pines, it occurred to me that the century-old journeys that camps, such as this, have traveled offer a multitude of leadership lessons for all of us to observe.

* Create a camp spirit -- all can feel a part of and will live forever in one's heart.

* Create opportunities -- all can feel like winners and learn from the experience.

* Create interactions and a community of "we" -- all can receive dignity and share success.

* Create a climate of trust -- all can feel valued and that their voices are heard.

It is clear we are promoting and demonstrating leadership every day. Members of the camp community know how to use a compass to find direction and how to dream to envision their destination. We understand how to respect yesterday while looking forward to the future. That is why our leadership survives over the centuries.

That is also the reason we survive times of crisis. We have carried three essential values with us over time. We believe in, and practice, democratic principles of living. We are brave enough to express moral and spiritual order protecting the integrity of life. We recognize the importance of fun and friendship that nurtures life as much as the bread we break together. These values sustain us in good and in difficult times. These values of our community offer children and youth hope and joy during the dark times. Now is the time to rejoice and recommit to these truths. We must, for the children.

Before I left this camp's anniversary celebration, a young woman spoke about her camp experiences. She spoke softly about a conversation she had with her father who had gone to this same camp when he was a child. She and her father realized that although many of their experiences had been different, many had been the same. They realized that the embers from the campfires, each of them had witnessed, had the same effect on them regardless of the moment in time. They each had witnessed the magic as they watched the sparkles of firelight merge with the stars in the dark night sky. The inherent values and intangible enduring moments remain the same and live forever, from one century to the next, fragile floating embers that reach extraordinary limits to ignite the stars of today and tomorrow.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:camps and camping
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:458
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