The Vibrant, Exuberant Rumpus of Day Camp
by Jordan Seeger, Day Camp Director
QUIET | STILL | CALM
These are not the words that I would use to describe any moment of my summers as a Day Camp Director. Far from it. The vibrant, exuberant rumpus of each day is exactly what I look forward to as we welcome campers to our grounds for 7 weeks each summer. Yet in 2020, as I looked out at the open fields, the abandoned pavilions, and the empty pools, I was quite frankly overwhelmed by the stillness. In any other setting, I would have described the scene as peaceful…but I was not at peace. I was sad. Depressed. Overcome with grief for all the children and staff for whom a summer at Day Camp wasn’t happening.
I won’t spend a lot of time bemoaning all of the changes that 2020 brought because, let’s face it, we all know them. We’ve lived with them every day. We’ve shared in more losses than we have triumphs, and have spent nearly a year not wondering “if” more bad news was coming, but “when.” For me, the changes of 2020 will be remembered best by that moment standing alone in the Day Camp field, hearing the ghosts and echoes of the songs, cheers, and laughter of our campers and counselors that should have been there.
One of the things I love most about Day Camp is the community and togetherness. The trail groups are often spread out and all involved in a variety of things, but we are all there for the same purpose: to meet new people, try new things, and grow. Having everyone here at camp reminds us of that purpose. The sounds coming from across the field help set the tone and lend to the energy of what’s happening right in front of us. The mass of people, in some ways, makes the experience. It reminds us that Day Camp isn’t just about being outside, or making new friends in your trail group. It’s about being part of a community who cares for each other, prays for each other, and builds each other up.
I’ve spent every day since standing in that field alone thinking about the summer of 2021. And at the core of it has been this idea: How do we create a safe environment for our campers and staff without losing that sense of community? We’ll use tools like physical distancing and masks to help keep our campers and staff safe, and I know that even while we are using those tools we’ll be able to still be tied to that same purpose of camp in years past. We’ll still be able to meet new people, to try new things, and to have the opportunity to grow. But how can we create that same sense of community while trying to avoid having everyone all together?
Well, the good news is that we aren’t going to be planning for a virtual camp. We’re planning for a real life, in-person, sweat-when-it’s-hot, shiver-when-it’s-cold kinda camp. That means that same energy I talked about influencing each trail group from across the field won’t be going away. We may leave a little bit more room between each other, but we’ll still be able to pass each other on our way to and from our next adventures, and remind each other that we’re sharing in the same experience. We’ll adapt what communication between trail groups looks like to maintain safe distances between people and minimize crossover between circles. We’ll still have times where we are all together – we’ll just do it differently. We’ll utilize the gift of this giant outdoor space that we have to still host chapels all together as a camp to start building our community each day with the foundations of honesty, respect, responsibility, caring, and faith. We’ll still swim. We’ll still run. We’ll still discover. It’ll just look different than it did.
Different can be scary, but only if we let it be. This summer there will be a lot of new things that we need to try each day, and that’s okay because at Day Camp, we like to try new things. Part of what we feel we do best is making a safe, positive environment where it’s okay for kids to step outside their comfort zone and try new things. Trying new things leads to self-discovery. Self-discovery leads to growth. We are excited to keep that safe, positive environment at Day Camp, and to give kids the opportunity to grow in character, confidence, and faith. And we’re excited to have you be a part of it.
Jordan Seeger started at Camp Tecumseh in 2006 as a counselor and joined the full-time team in 2011. Among a variety of other duties and positions, he has been Day Camp Director since 2013.