August 17th – The End of a Beginning

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I admit I am totally biased, but I believe AYF campers and staff are remarkable, and tonight we celebrated the remarkable group of campers who have made Merrowvista their home for the last three or four weeks. Along with hundreds of friends and family, we celebrated campers that worked hard to create a community based on kindness, respect, perseverance, joy and LOVE!

Throughout the session, and the summer, campers explored what it means to be “My own self, At my very best, All the time” – even when it’s hard. As you have read in previous blog posts, they aspired nobly, adventured daringly and served humbly. Whether time was spent in camp or on-trail, their days were full! They solved problems, overcame challenges, sang a lot of songs, practiced four fold balanced living, and developed deep and genuine friendships. They practiced patience and worked through conflicts. They hiked mountains, swam in lakes, shared insights at flag raising, biked up hills, and fixed flats. They took on real responsibilities as they moved through their MV days, relying on themselves and their village mates for support. Through it all they were encouraged to be their own self, to let their enkindled spirit shine brightly.

And all of these things mean that at the end of camp we are full of feelings, often confusing feelings. We are sad to leave this place and these people, but happy to return to our families and friends. We have found peace in being unplugged for a few weeks, but still miss our phones and computers just a bit. But what I hear the most in the end of camp is the worry of can we continue to be our own, best selves outside of this place?

You, remarkable campers, know what you are capable of. You worked hard this summer to discover that and put it into action daily! And your capacities, your best self, remain true and constant regardless of where you find yourself. The good stuff within you, that enkindled spirit, is always there.

With that in mind, I would like to suggest that tonight’s closing of the camp season is not actually an ending. It is instead just the end of a beginning. As Tovah wrote in her blog post of August 16th, “Now the true challenge begins: to be our own best selves beyond the practice field that is Merrowvista. To take all that we have revealed in ourselves and each other and put it into practice in a world that isn’t always so patient and understanding.”

So, remarkable 2017 campers, look for the light out there on this new adventure you are embarking on today. You have trained well over these last few weeks and your best self is ready. Be courageous, be kind and lead with love. Aloha and Happy Trails…until we meet again.

With gratitude and a very full heart,