Our oldest spent the week at a place near and dear to my heart. Nestled in the cornfields of Indiana, Culver is a hidden treasure. I attended boarding school there in the 1980s, married there in the 1990s and returned there with my kids in the 2000s.
For the past several summers, my childhood friends and I have returned with our spouses and kids for a special week of family fun. Our motivation is two-fold: we want the time to reconnect with one another. We also want to share this place with those most special to us.
In the past, it was always me sharing my Culver with them. This week, I. experiences a piece of Culver that belongs only to him.
Jr. Woodcraft teaches kids the core values of Culver: Honesty. Leadership. Self-Discipline. Consideration. Cooperation. Counselors seamlessly weave the lessons in between games of kickball, t-shirt tie-dying and Indian lore.
The last day of camp, we join other parents and families for an all-camp talent show, awards and a parade where the kids march and pass in review of the camp director and his staff.
We linger. We walk to the lake and ohh and ahh over the progress workers make on the new boathouse. We cut back through the woods and explore the new Woodcraft docks. Walking back through camp towards our car, the boys run ahead and check out “our” cabin, the one we return to every August.
Pieces of torn chip bags and corners of candy wrappers dot the ground. Pieces so small, many might walk past. We notice and bend to pick them up. As we walk through camp and talk about the weeks until we return (“Can’t we just stay until then?” whines A.) we collect the trash and deposit it in the nearest trash can. The kids pick up the trash without prompting.
That’s when I realize what I’ve always hoped would be true. They feel pride. They feel a responsibility. They love this place as much as I do.