Opening Day 2022!
Every first day of camp is memorable, but few have been as special as today. My day started in New York, as I had traveled down to meet and greet our TriState area families and to accompany so many of our campers on their journey to their summer home. It was wonderful to greet so many of you, exchange hugs, and see the excitement in the eyes of so many of our children. The nervousness that a few of your children felt quickly faded away as they boarded the buses and started connecting and reconnecting with peers and staff. We’ve always said that Camp really begins on the bus, and that was so evident today. The journey was smooth and as we turned down Eagle Pond Road, every camper spontaneously started cheering for the bus driver, a lovely man who had never encountered a show of gratitude like that before. He was delighted and bewildered.
Speaking of gratitude, let me share another incredible part of my day: meeting the dozen and a half children from the Ukraine who will be spending their summer with us. As I read the bunk lists after the children arrived, calling forward counselors and their campers, bunk by bunk, our US campers eagerly greeted their new Ukrainian bunkmates. By the time our evening activity started, every one of those children felt the full support of the Kenwood & Evergreen community, surrounded by eager, smiling faces that they will come to know as friends.
Our traditional opening night activity is the “Counselor Show”, which is a staged variety show consisting of dance routines, songs, skits, and an occasional bit of comedy, all performed by your children’s counselors. The goal of this event is for your children to see that this is a place where you can take safe risks, even be silly, and that the people around you will always be there to support you and cheer you on. There was more wild applause, laughter, and joy tonight than I have seen in years at a Counselor Show. I’ve had the tradition of playing the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips just before the end of the show. Every year, our returning campers join me in song and as the choruses repeat, new campers learn the words and the tune. The song builds until everyone in our theater tent is singing along, their voices soaring above my guitar. “Just know you’re not alone…we’re gonna make this place your home”. That feeling was undeniable tonight, and every one of your children shared in it together.
Tonight was one of those transcendent moments. I could see the wave build in front of me…a wave of friendship, love, support and joy. That wave will push us forward into what I hope will be our most memorable summer ever. A summer of belonging, of challenge and triumph, and of sublime moments of friendship and connection for your children.
We look forward to the days ahead with excitement. I can’t help but smile when I think of what adventure tomorrow will bring, and I know that whatever it is, we are on that journey together.
With love from Eagle Pond,