More Than Just a Place
By Todd Mitchell
There’s a place among the pines, a place where something amazing happens that cannot be explained.
One of the many mantras at Camp North Star is that “it’s more than just a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s even on the sign entering camp. At first glance, it may seem like a poignant advertisement for those arriving, but it means so much more.
This is my second summer at Camp North Star which is one of the top-rated Maine summer camps. Last year, I tried as hard as I could to fully embrace the thought of camp. It’s all about letting camp take hold of you and making it part of who you are. This year, I again am fully inviting camp into who I am, but I am also looking at how the campers embrace this as well. It’s more subtle of a transition, but it’s still very visible. I am realizing now that what was once originally a place to work, is something much more. When you first get here, camp is just a place but by the end of the summer it means everything.
Camp is summer. There is no way around it. From the waterfront, to the dining hall, The Village to The Bunkhouse, camp is the essence of summer. Though, it is not the place as much as it is the people, camp is nothing without the campers. It’s this little oasis in a world that is volatile. Somehow through the experiences of the campers and the counselors alike, something profoundly magical happens. It can’t really be explained but a visible change occurs. The weight of the world leaves everyone’s shoulders and smiles spread across faces. Camp becomes more welcoming than a home and more tight-knit than a family. It’s a place where playing in the mud is a completely acceptable thing for a 22 year-old to do as much as it is for a 10 year-old to do an interpretive dance to Single Ladies. It a place where individuality it exulted and happiness is the way of life.
Camp for me has become this beautiful place full of beautiful people and experiences. The feeling can’t really be described but the best way I can explain it is through example. On a sunny day, you step out of the main office, you look across to the main field which is full of campers. The feeling of camp is in each joyful smile that spreads across a campers faces. It’s that moment where you completely lose yourself and all troubles melt away and pure, unfathomable bliss runs through you with each excited heartbeat. As the summer comes to a close, there are points of sadness but the feeling is still there and will stay with you until next summer when it bubbles back to the surface and grows stronger with every passing year.