To the people who don’t get camp, the concept to them is over simplified, undervalued, even misrepresented. To them, it’s just a place where kids go during the summer. “The kids just live there and eat there, and play sports there,” they say. “The counselors watch the kids. They do a lot of fun things, maybe go on a few trips and hikes, or learn some new tricks, sing a few songs around a fire. Then, after the seventh week, they pack their bags and come home.”
To them, this is what camp means.
Camp is a place that activates all the senses.
A place that cannot be understood in any other context than its own, even for the people who love it most There is a feeling A sound – A smell – A feel – A sense of purpose.
Where little things prevail and where a world of numbers and information disappear, The unique sound of the dirt paths and the surrounding trees Where you learn where every root and rock and crevice of the road is so you don’t trip down the hill, where you could nearly walk blindly,
The buzz, the excitement of movement and activity…
The natural echo of the lodge and that warm yet reverberant sound where voices and cheers echo too Sweating in the lodge watching the Fourth of July talent show, then enjoying fireworks by the waterfront on a calm Berkshire night as the sun sets and the sky glows a magenta found nowhere else.
A place where dark really means dark … and where the stars shine so bright,
Where the rain pounds so hard but cleans the ground in a way a machine or chemicals never could.
A city, a village
Neither movies, nor images, nor sound alone, not even the combination, capture this place, as long as you are comfortably seated on your couch at home in air conditioning… camp and its importance must be understood in its own context – Camp can never fully be understood in the imagination… it’s the definition of “you just had to be there”
From the the fresh wood smell of the bunks on that first day, to the sound of the bugle from the morning to the night,
The excitement of being woken up to whistles and air horns on the 4th of July, and the euphoric anticipation of Color War around the corner, “who are the generals??” Or the sense of pride of winning because you really won, and deserved every last bit of it, taking home the trophy Or getting consumed by the weight of a loss, but knowing you put in 100%.
The micro memories - the mini memories – the big memories … every single day. They add up.
The chats, the hugs, the songs, the games, the wins, the losses, the sounds, the happiness and the sadness… they add up.
The friends who feel as close, if not closer, than family,
The countless first place trophy presentations “to Coach, Rich, and Stef Moss,” the 30 seconds of silence “thank you and enjoy your meal”, or the surprise and reward of hearing your name called at the flagpole and running down the hill… “Let’s go with the high sign!”
The spirit, the whistles and cheering filling the dining hall… the very first C-A-M-P-L-E-N-O-X and thinking on that first night with pizza spaghetti and wings surrounded by friends old and new, like a huge reunion, how happy that “we’re back”… picking up just where we left off. P with an I and a T-T-S and an F-I-E-L-D, or going “bananas!” The clings and clangs of dishes and silverware as hundreds are served simultaneously and the sound of the bell when the dining room begins to settle.
The joy of leaving for Big Trip, but being just as happy on the drive back up the camp road, singing the Lenox cheer after the bus charges past the Camp Lenox rocks. The announcements paging people across camp, the musical wake-ups, sitting at group lineup to hear the schedule, walking down to breakfast in sweats feeling the damp Berkshire morning on your skin.
As Coach once said… People are what make a camp, great people make a great camp, and that’s what Camp Lenox has to offer: great people.
Great people creating great moments… The small moments… Chilling in chairs around camp or porching it up, eating tons of Big Y pizza, heading to AM AIC’s And the big ones… Eagerly awaiting a hatchet runner when you hear the countdown begin, winning Rope Burn, “boom shake shake shake the room” at a tied Pittsfield halftime, Color War breaking, finding out your team, and the energy at introductions during the first team lineup These moments… they add up.
Where every day is really 3 days: the morning, afternoon, and night A marathon, not a sprint;
each summer is a book that will never have enough pages.
As Tattoo and Taps are blown, signaling the end of the day, standing and facing the lake, Camp becomes suddenly quiet.
Just the echo of the bugle through the trees…,
And like all good things, they must come to an end, but really, for us, a pause… Because when it’s all over, and the land is left to rest, the torch dims and the silence deafens,
but the flame never goes out.
As the torch burns low, kindling embers, the torch remains an important part in each of us.
And next summer, when we’re all back together, our fire will create a flame greater than the whole, and we’ll be back to knowing, but really feeling, how much and why we really love this place.