A Bittersweet Out with the Old, In with the New
By Todd Mitchell
In staff training, you are prepared that the kids in your cabin will become more than just campers to you, they will become family. I didn’t really consider how this statement would later affect me.
The first two weeks of camp seemed to zip by faster than a ride on our giant swing. I taught classes, lead evening programs and bonded with my cabin. I didn’t realize how quickly the campers in my cabin would become more than just campers until the last night we were all together. We started the night at the camp-wide dance. It was there where I started to realize this amazing group of young men would be leaving my cabin; either going home or reassigned to a new cabin.
It seems crazy but in the two weeks that I spent with my cabin what started off as an unique assortment of campers became a pretty close-knit family. We had varying personalities that at first clashed but then began to meld into one cohesive unit.
During the dance my campers mingled with other cabins but at times would come together to dance to a song. You could see the shared enjoyment on their faces as they had their last hurrah. After the dance, we collected at the waterfront for a final send off. We sat crowded around a tiny piece of paper, soon to be strung to a balloon, jotting down the things we would remember most from the past two weeks. Emotions began to sink in and when we released the nostalgic balloon into the sky. I could feel myself on the verge of choking back tears as we made our way back to the cabin.
The next morning there was a very muted tone in the cabin. Campers very quietly got ready for our last breakfast together. We ate together in near silence. The whole camp gave off the feeling you get right before you have to say goodbye to a close friend. The tone became all to real when the first busload of campers filed out of the dining hall. Quick hugs and several sad looks set the mood for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, our cabin escorted the two campers leaving for the summer around camp to say goodbye. We finally reached the point where we had to make our goodbyes. Once again, I nearly had to choke back tears as I waved goodbye to people I had only known for two weeks.
If this is what it’s like after two weeks, I can only imagine the emotional wreck I will be at the end of the summer, saying goodbye to not only the amazing campers at this camp but the camp itself and even more so, the amazing counselors I have come to know over the past month.
The cabin is now full of a bunch of new campers and there has been a huge change in dynamic. It is interesting how a couple of new faces can have such a stark difference on the overall mood and compatibility of the cabin home environment. It’s still sad knowing that as soon as I get used to the new cabin, it will nearly be time to say goodbye once more.