Ongoing Stories of My Soul

Look over my shoulder as I ponder life.

Letters from Camp: “Your Son Does What?”

That last kid of mine actually listened to me. When I was floating around the house spouting off that old quote that said:
“There are two lasting gifts we can give our children.
            One is roots. The other is wings.”
he took it to heart. Yeah…his wings have taken him to various adventures that I just shake my head at. One….he tried studying film at the LA Film School. Living in the mix of Hollywood, he was never dazzled by seeing the likes of Patrick Dempsey or Robert DiNero, or other celebrities. His take on it was this, “Mom, they are just going to work.” LA never consumed him as this mother feared it would. He came home to Indiana, realizing that film was not his passion, music was. I can tell you now, that I kinda knew that, but he had to figure it out for himself.

I took some heat as I watched his band, “My Hidden Track” perform around Indy. I mean, folks advised me to make him get a degree and THEN do music and such. I was viewed as irresponsible by not imposing a strict regimen of “go to college, get a degree, get a job, get into debt, put your passions aside…”

 Someone asked me if the band was good. My response was this: “I don’t know. I’m the mom, so of course I think he’s good. But look at the audience: they are loving it! They are buying the merchandise and cd’s so yeah, I guess they think they’re good.” I still smile when I drive by the Emerson or Irving Theater and see kids lined up outside to see their favorite band. I told Nick, “I did not write my first book until I was fifty years old. I will never tell you to quit the ‘band thing’ until you decide.” Music is still his first love. I will never be surprised if the world ends up on my doorstep looking for my son. I told him once, “You can be famous for a month and then it all has to go away!” HA! Fame was hardly in his game plan.

But LA was. Nearly seven years ago, when he was a student at IU, he was recruited by representatives of a camp for kids, called, Canyon Creek Sports Camp. He went out there for a summer job. By the end of the summer it was no mystery that he would return. And return. And return. As family, we looked over his shoulder at this ‘job’ that would soon become as important to him as music. I hinted that there were camps closer—like in Brown County—but his heart was in Lake Hughes, California, in the Angeles National Forest. Yeah…this adventure had ‘wings’ written all over it! The Hoosier roots had given my boy flight to the west coast. You can’t imagine how much we miss him.

But there’s a satisfaction when a mother knows that her offspring are living the life they feel has meaning. When this, my baby of four kids, welcomes hundreds of campers and counselors into the ‘Creek’ he is complete. Wearing different hats, he is on the administrative staff. He hires counselors from all over the world, organizes schedules, fundraisers for the Harold Robinson Foundation, (an arm of the camp that brings underserved schools to camp), is a kind of PR director, and a team member of an incredible staff at this camp. I got to see this up close when I was invited to do some science sessions recently.

At first I did not get it. How can one make a career out of camp? But this camp is not just for kids; but also for businesses and spiritual retreats, private celebrations, and their underlying goal of ‘team building’ should be a requirement for all politicians and world leaders. As the country embraces an initiative that promotes health and fitness, there’s no better way than to introduce youth to physical activity than rope courses, archery, fishing, zip lines, swimming, team sports, go carts, hiking, and on and on it goes. A nightly campfire is the stage for wacky and hilarious songs and skits, which takes extensive energy from the counselors. Entertainment that is non-violent and lacks rude and mean messages Now, that is rare. Oh yeah. No electronics as the area gets lousy reception. After a while you don’t even miss it–no newspapers, no TV; just folks staying in the moment.

What I did in the classroom for 32 years, he and the staff of Canyon Creek Sports Camp are doing with outdoor education. Amazing! A kid’s playground developing core lessons in cooperation, encouragement, and revealing a kid’s hidden potential. Is it fun? Oh yeah! Do I get it now? Oh yeah!

This is my last letter from camp.

I have shared my various mis-adventures and such. But I just felt I needed to state some thoughts on this whole notion of camp. And how I am amazed and blessed that my boy is, to find such fulfillment in his life’s work in a very non-traditional career. He is blessed to be surrounded by the most competent and loving folks whom he calls ‘staff’. From the kitchen crew to the grounds’ crew, to ‘Jill the Camp Mom’ and all of the ‘naturalists’ who reveal the hidden secrets of the universe; this camp brings such a balance to the ‘dog eat dog’ world of that old 9 to 5 work week. I would like to think that the ‘roots’ of Indiana shaped him into what he is today. Camp is not easy work; but it means so much to each kid and adult who leave there. I should know. I won’t be the same. Funny thing….when the kid teaches the parent.

Roots and wings. Ever thankful that when this kid left the nest his wings took him to such an awesome adventure. Now when folks say, “Your son does what??” I just smile and say, “Camp.” You get it now, don’t you?

Thanks for reading my letters from camp. Your kind readership keeps my mind rooted in these blogs. But more, has given my heart wings.