An old camp friend flew in from Australia this past weekend. She traveled alone so that she could see New England in the fall and re tramp some of the footpaths of her young adulthood. We met at camp at a time when social media wasn’t even imagined and there were certainly no smart phone so connections through the years have been loose. How incredible is was to see someone again after 14 years we had only spent one 9 week summer together yet reconnected like it was just yesterday.
Though her memories were a little fuzzy the draw to return to Runoia was strong. We walked through camp, past the many things that have changed, the new buildings, additions, different program options and reminisced about all the things that were still the same. She found her name on the 5th shack plaque and could recall each of her campers and the laughs they had shared together that summer.
We sat on the boathouse steps for a long time just quietly taking it all in. She was amazed at how deeply she was moved by being back and how the memories of one summer so long ago returned so quickly. As a swim instructor she had spent many hours on and in the lake and could recount memorable moments and the day to days of camp life. We talked about how camp was life changing for so many reasons. As young adults our futures were impacted greatly by the time that we spent on Great Pond and the relationships that formed that have and will truly last a life time. How hard it is to describe this powerful experiential force to those that haven’t been here.
So many times our Runoia girls will say they come back to camp be with their friends. They love all that camp has to offer, the activities, silly evening programs and Sunday campfires, but it is the relationships that draw them back. As our cabins rapidly fill up for the 2020 season we are already anticipating the strengthening of those bonds and the development of new ones. Camp is the place where you come as you are and are welcomed in and appreciated for just being you. The friends that you make be it for one summer or over many truly are the people that stay with you for a lifetime.
She left the Runoia gates with a million photographs and the strong certainty that she would be back someday. I left with a great reminder that the work we do here is powerful and has great value. The Runoia experience is far more than just one summer moment in time, it’s magic that can resonate for a lifetime.