Camp Woodland Blog

The Precious Present

Posted by on July 18, 2019


One of my favorite camp traditions is listening to the story that JoAnne reads each week at the end of campfire. The mood transitions from one of silliness and laughter to a more quiet and reflective tone. Girls get comfy in their spot around the fire as the red and orange flames give way to embers glowing yellow and white. A recent message from The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson encapsulates the essence of what camp is all about.

A young boy listens to an old man and learns about the best present of all, The Precious Present. Such a gift brings happiness forever to the receiver. Of course, the boy spends a lot of time searching for what could make him eternally happy and is frustrated as he grows into a man and is still unable to put his fingers on it. He becomes frightened that he will never figure out how to be happy.

Along the way he learns that:

  • The Precious Present has nothing to do with wishing.
  • When you have the Precious Present, you will be perfectly content to be where you are.
  • The richness of the Precious Present comes from its own source.
  • The Precious Present is not something that someone gives to you.
  • It is something you give yourself.

I have been back at camp just a little over a week now, and what I love about my return to Woodland every summer is to see how much this community truly embraces living in the present. While JoAnne was reading the story, I observed a camper tilt back in her crazy creek and gaze up at the sky. How often do we slow down enough to notice that which is in front of us or around us every single day?

I am reminded to be more observant as Chet shares the latest moth spotting with me; he recently saw a fairly large one hanging with unusual coloring out at the Blue Barn. I retaliated by noticing a much smaller white moth on a chair next to our table in the lodge. During last week’s campfire, we saw an eagle soar overhead and heard the loons calling to one another across the lake. As the waxing moon passed through various stages to reach its optimal fullness this month, we were able to mark its growth and expansion as it left a trail of light on Sand Lake several nights in a row.

The campers are happy. They are exactly where they need to be at this moment in time. They are truly content where they are. Technology has been out of the picture for several weeks now, and it is absolutely fabulous to see girls enjoying a leisurely conversation at the dinner table or strolling to the next activity while chatting with a friend or stopping to notice a unique pinecone on the path.

There is an awareness that camp days are numbered now, and it won’t be long before we head back to home and school and the hustle and bustle of our lives outside of the Northwoods. Each moment is even more precious and to be savored for this is the season that so many wait all year to return to. Woodland is the place where so many girls find their happy. A summer at camp IS the Precious Present for the happiness it forever brings to the receiver.

The Present Is What It Is…It Is Precious. Even if I do not know why. It is already just the way it is supposed to be. When I see the present, and experience the present, I am well, and I am happy.