There isn’t a Tripp Lake Camp camper, counselor, or staff member, whether current or former, that wouldn’t immediately break into song following this familiar opening chord. It’s a melody that resonates loud and clear, evidently mirroring the impact Janet Nash has made here at TLC. It’s one of the longer administrative songs we sing, which is apropos for the fifty years she has spent in the Promised Land, never missing a single summer. The song is beautiful, the song rings true, and the song is known to all. Well, the same descriptors can be said of Janet. Everyone at Tripp Lake has a Janet story, myself included. The image in my mind is just as vivid as the feel of her hugs welcoming me off the bus summer after summer. Luckily enough, this summer brought no exception. Though a little older, the feel of a Janet hug always reassures me that perhaps I am doing something right in my new role as an administrator. Of course, after all this time, she makes it look effortless. Yet, I am grateful for her guidance, her wisdom, and her kindness. She even showed me where the Friday Evening Service bell was so that I could try my hand at ringing it like she does (for the record, I kind of thought I had that one in the bag, being a bit taller than she… jokes on me – she’s got all the power).
Recently, I was running around camp completing a bunch of tasks on a checklist that just would not shrink. I stopped for a brief respite near the office, though still furiously scribbling in my notebook. I saw Janet standing on the steps in front of me. I asked her if there was anything she needed, and she just smiled at me. She said, “Nope. It’s just a nice day out. I wanted to look out at camp. You should probably do that too.” In all that she has witnessed in her Tripp Lake tenure, Janet knows that one only has to look outside the window at our sprawling landscape and take a deep breath to gain even the tiniest bit of perspective and remind ourselves why we return to camp.
Two weeks ago, we had the honor of listening to Janet walk us through her Tripp Lake journey at a Friday Evening Service. Below, you will get to read her words. Her passion for working with children, her love for the friends she has made here, and her appreciation for the beauty of camp, is simply unmatched. There was not a dry eye in the theater that night as she managed to fit fifty years of dry humor, lessons learned, and fruitful experiences into one speech.
Janet doesn’t know this, but by the time you are reading this blog, the entire camp will be sitting in a dining hall transformed with gold decorations to celebrate her fiftieth anniversary. Honored guests, who have worked alongside Janet throughout her time at TLC, as well as the members of her family, are going to sit right by her side at a long head table. Age groups will be invited, one by one, to present her with creative gifts that demonstrate their love and appreciation for this very special lady. And of course, there will be singing, songs we have practiced in the rare moments that we could get Janet away from the Promised Land, to be presented in perfect harmony, just how she likes it.
I know I speak for every person who has spent even a moment in the Promised Land.. THANK YOU Janet for being a part of Tripp Lake’s story for fifty wonderful years. Here’s to many more.
I had never been away from home. I was very excited about the opportunity. My mother said no, but then said, “Ask your father.” I asked my father and he said, “See ya! Have a good time.” Off I came to Tripp Lake Camp. That coach that had offered the job to me happened to be the senior advisor here at camp, and probably had some of your moms under her wing. Doc Spahn and Aunt Ruth were the directors here. They weren’t just buildings or pictures on the wall. They were great people. I became a nanny for Judy. Judy was the head counselor, and she had two small children. That’s the same Judy that Judy’s Dew Drop Inn is named after. So again, things brought me here and kept me here. I knew early on in my life that I wanted to be a PE teacher. What better place to gain experience with children than being at a summer camp? So off I came every summer, and as I finished college, teaching jobs were very hard to come by. I didn’t know what I was going to do as my career ended, but I knew that I had camp. After graduation, I came back up to Maine for the summer. While I was here, I had a phone call from my mom and she said one of my college professors had called my house and wanted to get in touch with me. That was weird. Who gets in touch over the summer? But I called and we had a meeting and when the meeting was finished, I was hired for my very first teaching job without having even applied for it. Most importantly, as a teacher, I always had my summers available for camp. So here I stayed.
Of course, there were summers where I thought perhaps my time was done. There were ups and downs, and hills and valleys, but something would always happen or tug at my heartstrings to say, I need to be back. I taught swimming. I was the JR advisor. I was the SUB advisor. I was the Inter III advisor. I was the SR advisor. Soon after, Jon and Bev Myers became the directors, and I became the Head Counselor. I stayed in that position for twenty three years. And all throughout, there were changes and adjustments, ups and downs. But I always had help. I always had support through those times, and that support always came from camp.
We’ve talked a lot lately here at camp about kindness. Maybe it’s because we realize that our world outside can be very harsh and cruel. We don’t want that to invade TLC. So, treat each other the way you want to be treated. Take a small step each and every day. Find the little things that brighten someone’s day. Even a small little pebble thrown into the lake can create ripples that spread out a far distance. You can be that small little pebble affecting other people’s lives. Learn to understand the values that Tripp Lake stands for, and accept others for who they are, which includes our differences. We don’t have to constantly embarrass one another or leave trash on the ground around us, waiting for someone else to take care of it. We each have a place here in this community. Start small, and do what you can to make Tripp a better place.
Years ago I found a quote that I love. It’s called ‘The Little Things.’ I’m sure I liked it because I’m a little thing. Here is is:
The little things are most worthwhile… A quiet word, a look, a smile, A listening ear that’s quick to share Another’s thoughts, another’s care, Though sometimes they may seem quite small, These little things mean most of all.
Find what brings you joy. Embrace it and appreciate it. I found it at Tripp Lake. And fifty years later, I’m still here.