July 19th – At a Time Like This

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One of the more popular camp songs this summer is called “At a time like this.” Like many camp songs, it’s easy enough to learn. Let me teach it to you quickly. It goes:

At a time like this [clap, clap]

At a time like this [clap, clap]

At a time like this [clap]

I need you to help me [clap, clap]

It follows the familiar format, repeating these simple verses and adding a silly new complication—snaps, twists, etc.—each time, all of which become harder and harder to coordinate. It’s a thrill to try and keep each new layer organized and a laugh when the verse moves too quickly and the snaps, claps, and twists become bungled. Like summer camp, this song is a safe place to be silly, to challenge yourself, to try and try again. It’s a perfect camp song for a time like this: the last full day of camp for Session A.

At a time like this: campers are frantically putting the finishing touches on their summer projects. There are benches and baskets coming out of the woodshop. There are climbing ropes being tied in perfect figure eight knots, all while the camper tying the not is blind-folded. Swimmers are waking up early to kick their way out to Strawberry Point and add another distance swim bead to their buddy tag. Archers are loading their arrows. The Mod Podge on carefully crafted collages is almost dry. Each camper arrived at camp with summer dreams and many set new goals while they were here. Today is a day to complete those achievements.

At a time like this: The Four Fold Relay has sent teams of campers and staff across the Canaan valley. They were challenged in each fold, completing mental puzzles, shooting three pointers on the basketball court, bobbing for apples, and reciting the Gettysburg address. They rolled down a hill, speedily beaded a necklace, and painted each other’s faces in their team colors. Each in-camp camper completed a leg of the relay for their team and then dashed about camp, cheering their teammates onward.

At a time like this: Four Trails villages are returning from their final trips. They have crossed over the saddleback ridgeline in sunshine and in rain. They have stepped, and fallen, and occasionally been pulled into rivers, and lakes, and knee-deep mud. They floated about at leisure in canoes and sweated through clenched teeth as they pedaled up camp hill. Every single group of Explorers and Adventurers made it in to the valley in time to welcome back Odyssey and Voyageur. The Voyageurs dressed themselves in outrageous Canadian thrift store finds and the Odyssey hikers enhanced themselves with extra mud and grime for their walk back into camp.  It was a truly hot day to be hiking and biking, so the cold water of Dan Hole Pond must have felt sweet when these, our oldest campers ran from the farm house all the way down to the dock to throw themselves in the water.

I need you to help me: We didn’t just cheer our own team in the relay—we cheered for every racer’s effort, because part of a Four Fold challenge involves the kindness and sportsmanship of healthy and supportive competition. One village pulled all of their mattresses in to one side of their cabin so they could all be together through this past week’s thunderstorm. Another village formed a bucket brigade to unload every last backpack and garbage-bagged sleeping bag from the back of their van’s trailer. The youngest campers decorated signs and buzzed with anticipation as they waited along the dirt road to welcome Voyageur and Odyssey back, and campers of all ages helped grab Odyssey’s backpacks and Voyageur’s bikes to return their gear to its home before the celebration was complete. For every camper who climbed to the top of the climbing tower, there were two or three on the ground acting as the belay team, ready to break any accidentally slipped grip.

At a time like this, we are celebrating. At a time like this, we are proud. At a time like this, we are bittersweet with goodbyes. We cannot create the power of this place on our own. I need you to help me.

As I write this, the community is lining up at the waterfront where each village will share a song with the community during “Candlelight Sing.” Some villages have rewritten the words to familiar songs in order to tell a story about their time together. Some villages choose a song that reflects their village’s spirit or energy. Other villages will choose a group favorite. The whole community will join their voices together to help sing our summer to a close.

At a time like this, we have aspired nobly. At a time like this, we have adventured daringly. At a time like this, we have served humbly. But as Kris reminded us today, the magic of Merrowvista is not in what we do here. The magic lies in what we reveal in each other. We must carry that wonder beyond this community now. We need each other’s help.