Merry, joy, love, happy, peace. Words oft used around the holidays, be it on holiday cards, signs, or said aloud to others within greetings and expressions. My blind guess would be that December comes in at the top of the list if there were some obscure ranking in which certain months of the year are then most tied to these lovely words. That top-ten list is not one to be found on the Travel Channel or the Weather Channel anytime soon, but you can picture the idea.
However, there is a place I know where these words are truly befitting, and the setting is smack dab in the middle of summer. As Jai Cobb Kells’ husband and Pam Cobb’s son-in-law, I get a front row seat to the magic of Camp Runoia. As a father of three daughters, two of which attend Camp Runoia during the summer months, I get a veritable look behind the curtain.
I’m at Runoia on weekends during the summer, and my duties usually entail hanging out with our youngest daughter Frannie, who is a spirited two-year old.
She has a yearning to explore and a propensity to run off in glee as fast as her little legs will carry her, typically with me chasing behind. We are frequent visitors all over the camp grounds, constantly seeing the beauty of children who are in the present moment, full of life. Is there a better place to be? Frannie and I find ourselves at the waterfront, where campers are laughing, swimming, singing, making bracelets, braiding hair, hugging, and learning water activities. Words like merry and happy are easy descriptions to any observer. We find ourselves in the dining hall, where the waves of joy and energy come over and through the tables again and again like infinite waves on a shoreline. We find ourselves in the communal Lodge reading books, playing piano, and soaking in the rich Runoia history with other campers. We find ourselves adventuring to the archery pavilion, or hanging out in the graceful presence of the horses in the fields, watching girls learn to harmonize their energy. We’re often found trying to hit a badminton birdie around with laughing campers, or climbing the tree house, or trying to find the biggest tree in sight, or holding the bunnies.
Behind it all, the omnipresent feelings of peace and love are often what I notice most. Of course, as a parent, I notice different things now than I did when I was camper age, but these are the big ones nowadays. Peace, love, joy, genuine happiness – this is the good stuff. These are the emotions that bring vibrant color to a child’s life, last indefinitely, and ensure hopeful futures. Like Camp Runoia, these qualities instill a belonging in the universe…so it makes perfect sense that they are found there and exist together. And where / when everything and everybody belongs, no matter what, then everything is to be loved.
To be part of a setting that organically provides that very concept, I am truly grateful…and merry!