Camp Woodland Blog

Impressions in 2011 – an alum’s perspective

Posted by on July 19, 2011

Dear Woodland Staff,

By the time you read this, you will have experienced “Red, White & Boom” in all its glory. “Ooooh, Aaaaah, Wonderful!!!!” will still be resonating through your heads as you remember the beautiful fireworks lighting up the north woods sky over Clear Lake. Budding relationships will have already begun between T.P. boys and Woodland girls assuring that many envelopes will cross those County D miles via any soul willing to make a delivery. (at least this is how they did it in the old days) And by now even the new counselors and campers will know the Woodland Song as well as having other camp favorites committed to memory.

Although most of you have never met me, we are connected just the same because we are all Woodland girls. Some of us from many years ago, and others even longer. And then there are those who have just recently become a part of Woodland life. Nevertheless, the bond is there because of this great place, Camp Woodland, gifted to us by Mr. and Mrs. Jordan and the Jordan family.

You may not realize the importance of your role here at Woodland, and so I want to take this opportunity to remind you because your time here is short and each day is a gift. What you bring as an individual to camp is a gift as well, and it does not go unnoticed. The campers you are here with in the Summer of 2011 may not tell you what they learned from you or how much you impacted their lives. However, someday many years down the road, you will know that you left an imprint on a Woodland girl’s heart, and that will be passed on to all those lives whom she touches. I am still in awe at the campers who have found me 20 years later and remember something that I said or did that touched them in a significant way. So, be mindful of your words and actions because they are far reaching and are powerful beyond belief.

Part of the magic of Camp Woodland is that not only are the kids learning from you, but you are learning from them. Open your mind to the wisdom of what they have to offer by simply listening to what they have to say and observing. It is sometimes at the oddest and most inconvenient times that a camper will come to you; however, this is future training for parenthood!!! It never fails that when I am utterly exhausted and tucking my 13-year-old son into bed, he begins telling me something about his day or something that happened. If I didn’t take the time to listen to him even though I’m ready to just say “Good Night,” I would truly miss out on a gift that he is sharing with me. It is at these times that campers are trying to make a connection with you. It’s as though they are handing you a piece to a puzzle that is a very personal way of letting you into their complex life.

There is also great wisdom in the years of experience of your fearless leaders. They really do know what they are doing, so don’t forget to absorb as much of it as you can. I have used what I learned at Camp Woodland in every aspect of my life for the past 22 years. I hear Mrs. J.’s voice every time I say to myself, “When in doubt, STOP, and START over.” Simple, right? So why is it so effective? This is your opportunity to take what you will from their experience and knowledge and use it to better yourself and be the best person you can be for these campers.

Finally, because I cannot be there and wish I could, please do me a favor. Savor these moments. Listen to the wind blowing through the pine trees. Stop and close your eyes and smell the air and listen to the waves on Sand Lake. Look out across the water and enjoy the view (forget about the brown residue and leeches for a moment if you will). Savor a frozen candy bar at canteen. Watch a smile creep across a girl’s face as she does something she thought impossible. Relish in the joy of a camper’s excitement when she hears her name called because she received a package. Sing at campfire just a little more loudly than you did the time before. Feel the spirit of peace at vespers that doesn’t care what religion or faith you are, but is just glad you exist. Smile at a camper you pass who just needs an extra look for reassurance. Tell another counselor something they do amazingly well. And look just a while longer at your wish boat floating out across the water because that candle is truly a beacon reflecting a summer that will be a memory you will want to savor for years to come.

Much love to Mrs. J., JoAnne, Susan, my sister and any other Woodland/T.P. friends,

Camp Woodland Staff
(summers 1990-1994, 1997)