July 21, 2023
Today was a super busy day, and it marked the end of the first three days of activities for the second session. Many campers have already made progress in their activities, even though they’ve only been doing them for a short time. Some have learned to waterski, and others have improved in riflery, among other things. After lunch, we announced the Green-White captains for the second session. Each village has two captains, and the counselors chose them because they’ve shown good leadership, sportsmanship, and a positive attitude in their cabins and all around camp. During the session, these captains get the special job of planning and leading their teams in Green-White events.
In the late afternoon, we had our first Green-White event of the second session called North Star Ball. It’s a game like Capture the Flag. Each team starts with two balls on their side. When the game starts, the players on offense try to get to the “ball circle” and bring a ball back to their side. They can do this by either running it across the center line without getting caught or passing it to a teammate who then runs it across the line. The team that brings all four balls to their side first wins the round.
After North Star Ball, we had our first Friday Night Service of second session. Friday nights are special because we have a quieter, more thoughtful evening. We don’t have cheering, yelling, or singing like we do on other days. We enjoy Jeremy’s delicious brisket, potato pancakes, applesauce, and vegetables. Then, we all gathered around the flagpole to start our Friday Night Service.
After North Star Ball, we had our first Friday Night Service of second session. Friday nights are special because we have a quieter, more thoughtful evening. Campers dress up, which here means a polo, button down, or at least a clean shirt. We don’t have cheering, yelling, or singing like we do on other days. We enjoy Jeremy’s delicious brisket, potato pancakes, applesauce, and vegetables. Then, we all gathered around the flagpole to start our Friday Night Service.
The Friday Night Service happens at a special place called the Council Ring, which is one of the prettiest spots at camp. From there, we can see Clear Lake, and every week, we get to watch a stunning sunset during the service. Each Friday Night Service has a different theme. One of the older campers from the senior village gets to be the leader and guides the camp through some readings. One counselor gives a short sermonette related to the theme, and there are songs sung by the campers and counselors together. And, of course, we have the Keylog Ceremony. This week, the theme was “selflessness.” I want to share with you the sermonette that James Freedman delivered this evening.
Selflessness is a character trait that takes a long time to master. The ability to put others’ needs before your own isn’t something you can learn overnight. When it’s so easy to get a second run at waterskiing before everybody has gone once, or to take a second sandwich at lunch, it can be really challenging to find the willpower to let others take a waterskiing run before you, even though you really want to go. Over my time at North Star, however, I learned more about how to be a selfless person, and put others before myself, every day, week, session, and summer. Camp is a perfect place to practice selflessness, due to how much time you spend with people around you. Whether it be in the cabin, at meals, or at activities, I guarantee there is a way that YOU can work on selflessness.
My first year as a camper was in 2016. I was 10 years old, turning 11, and I was in cabin J7. Before I got here, I was of course excited, but I was equally as nervous, as I can imagine many of you were as well. When I got to camp, I immediately felt comfortable because I had just met some awesome people in my cabin. Adam Gerrard, Wyatt Zyrlin, and Micah Sedberry, are all people who I still remember made me feel at home. One way that this happened was a simple, and small act of kindness and selflessness that has still stuck with me eight years later. Micah and I were bunkmates, and Micah let me pick which shelf I wanted in our area. No matter how small it may seem, this act of generosity had completely locked in my positive mindset about camp.
A lesson to take away from this story is that small acts of kindness go a long way. Doing a favor for a friend, letting somebody go before you on the zipline, or even just filling their water bottle for them at night, doing things for others without looking for personal gain, are an incredible way to show them that you care about them.
Something that helped me push myself to be less selfish, and put others before myself, was the Canadian. All trips in fact allowed me to work as a team with my cabin. When I was on my Boundary Waters Trip, which was the fill in for Canadian in 2020, I decided that I was going to push myself to be a leader, and help out whenever I possibly could. This was one of the greatest decisions I think I have ever made. Each canoe that I carried, every dish that I washed, and every water bottle that I pumped full of water, I gained a valuable memory, and more importantly a lesson. To say carrying a canoe while I was exhausted was hard would be an understatement, but I also understood that my cabinmates felt the same way. They were just as tired as I was. If I could carry a canoe why wouldn’t I? I asked myself. I would appreciate it if they did it for me. This trip taught me skills in perseverance, teamwork, leadership, and of course selflessness.
The year after, I was a CIT. The CIT program at North Star was one of the most valuable experiences of my life, because it taught me about sacrifice. Being in the same camp with a completely different role is a big change. One year, people are at the water ski docks giving me tips on how to cut harder, and suddenly, I’m out of the water on the dock giving the same tips I heard just a year before. Sometimes, towards the beginning of the summer, I just wanted to jump in the water and be the one who got to ski. But then I thought back to my counselors who always helped me when I was in the water. I realized that sometimes, even if you’d rather be the one who gets to ski, the memories that other people get to build, and the experiences that they get to have will be just as awesome as I remember mine. I love being an activity instructor, and counselor because I get to see campers get excited and happy over the things that I loved when I was a camper, and it feels awesome to be part of the reason for that.
My cabin, and I’m sure many of yours have the Golden Rule on the cabin charter. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The Golden Rule is a great way to think about ways to do something for others. If somebody is at the health center during cabin cleanup, and you see that their bed isn’t made, thinking “I’d appreciate it if somebody made my bed for me if I was away”, is a sign that it’s the right thing to do. I challenge every person at camp, within the next 24 hours to find a way to help a friend, do a favor for somebody, or volunteer to lend a helping hand, and I promise that the community will benefit, and we can improve our already awesome kindness and generosity skills as a whole camp. I believe that the first night’s grace says it best. “All that we give into the lives of others, comes back into our own.”
Tomorrow we start our second set of programs, so our boys will have new activities, new counselors to meet, and new friends to make!
Today’s Grace:– Mark Twain
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”