Though we’ve had a lovely stretch of sunny days and clear blue skies, I have to admit that I was relieved at the sight of some raindrops lightly falling on the windows of our dining hall. Rain has a unique and powerful capacity at camp, and I’m not simply talking about the fact that it wipes away the pine needles from my car! Rain allows our girls to stop and take a breath in the midst of a fun and jam-packed schedule. Rain provides a reset on a long day, whether you’ve had to walk the hill from tennis to cookie line and back down to swim, or things are simply not going right with a friend. We are fortunate to have a variety of indoor spaces at camp that allow our staff, and perhaps an administrator or two, to keep our programs going! It was indeed the rain last night that led me to Spahn House porch, one of the oldest spots at Tripp Lake Camp, with our ten-year-olds (SUBs).
But first, a bit of context. Earlier that day, I was standing on the porch when a SUB camper approached me for a chat. It was clear that something was on her mind, and there’s very little that a rocking chair, a view of the sparkling waters, and a sympathetic ear can’t do to incite conversation. We started off light, with simple inquiries about her day and predictions for the lunch menu. The dialogue then quickly steered itself towards our review of both the Inter I performance of ‘Once on this Island,’ and the Inter II performance of ‘Newsies.’ Each age group at camp performs a production over the summer, from our oldest Seniors down to the Junior Is. I commented on how entertaining both shows had been so far, and this ten-year-old’s face showed me that I’d hit a target.
It turns out that this camper was feeling a bit disappointed to have received a smaller part in her age group musical than she’d had in her previous summers. I was quick to make her giggle when I told her that because of my height and Alto voice, I had always managed to get cast as one of the male leads on the stage of OTW… the horror! More importantly, I empathized with that inevitable feeling of rejection, and was in the midst of pointing out the multitude of singing opportunities available at camp when she cut me off and said, “Oh no. I don’t want to sing or dance anymore. No thank you.” I’ll admit; I smiled momentarily. I’ve spoken those words before, and they probably ring familiar to you as well. It feels like a much easier course of action to simply give up, change direction, or forego future opportunities when obstacles appear. In our current world of instant gratification, we want… what we want… when we want it. Yet I told this SUB camper that while her thinking was understandable, it would also prevent her from feeling a part of many different opportunities, and from getting to use her skills in ways she may not initially expect. She still looked incredulous… so the rain stepped in to help.
That very evening, the SUB campers were told that their indoor activity would be practicing camp songs. I was excited to be running this activity, and I arrived slightly drenched with songbooks in hand. Not wanting to spend too much time with background, I simply informed the girls that tonight’s rain would allow us to immerse ourselves in Tripp’s history through song. Though we might not get every single word correct, or every harmony note on cue, this was a bonding experience similar to what we experience in OTW in the evenings. Though our seniors lead the charge, there was no reason that the SUBs couldn’t take the reins as well. To say that we had an amazing time would be an understatement. Girls had dozens of requests for different songs that they wanted to learn, and each girl was snuggled up next to a friend as they looked at their songbooks. I took a peek at that young camper from earlier, and she was no exception. It was also during our ‘break’ from the singing that she actually prompted a spontaneous group sing of ‘Shallow’ from A Star is Born. I have no doubt that every single SUB, SUB counselor, and administrator at Spahn House could be heard belting out the famous ‘Shallow’ at the top of our lungs. It was the ultimate bonding experience as each girl danced and sang into fake hand microphones. As for the new camper, the rain seems to have freshly invigorated her as well. Last night in OTW, I didn’t have to look very hard to find that girl happily singing alongside her bunkmates.