Forty-Five And At Camp
Tim McCain, El Cajon, CA
As a youth, I was not exposed to the camp of any kind. No day camps, no church retreats, indeed not a week-long summer camp. It wasn't in the cards for my family. We had enough money barely for food and the basics. At 14, I was living on my own. Camp wasn't even on the radar. I hadn't given camp a thought. Period. No reason to. Until I heard about Chatcolab, it intrigued me. I was contacted to be a speaker. Had I not gone to this as a speaker, I am not sure I would have gone, but I am sincerely happy I did! I had no idea what to expect.
On the speaker side, I was good; we often go in very blind. We have to feel out a crowd and make adjustments as we go. This camp thing, however, was throwing me for a loop. When we checked in and got our badges, activities were already in full swing. It was mealtime. Everyone was gathered and eating. We sat down and started introducing ourselves. Everyone was warm and friendly. There was a goofy, fun-filled vibe of expectation in the room. After the meal we did ice breaker games, ending with singing songs. Everyone played all out and was rewarded with pure fun as a result. I went away that first night, thinking this was going to be a different experience for sure.
One I had never had before. It turns out I was right. The talks, the meals, the groups I had been through before, at various times in my life, this, however, seemed very different. What made it different at camp was the people, the closeness, the private talks, the solitary walks. A Solitary yet communal experience. If you can imagine several people sharing an experience, each on their journey. Every evening after the meal, the cleanup, and the evening activity, people would gather around in different spots and exchange ideas or sit in the silence of the beautiful setting we were in. Each morning was met with expectation and joy. We would gather for the flag-raising. We would have gratitude, a meal; then, we would speak of the day to come — a smile on everyone's face. The friendships and instant bonds made were worth the trip alone. I met great people. All from different walks of life. Conservatives, liberals, atheists, and Christian. The environment fostered compassion, respect, and empathy ....