Father’s Day Drive

Live Laugh Love

Hello from Chicago,

We can’t wait for camp to officially start tomorrow when the buses roll into camp.  Our campers will be welcomed by 140 enthusiastic staff wearing Birch Trail Staff T Shirts and huge smiles.  The verses of our camp welcome song will echo through camp.

As I was driving a group of staff down to Chicago today I couldn’t help but think of how many years I have been doing this very same drive (at least 20).  It’s become like a pilgrimage for me.  Every year on Father’s day I hop in a van full of former campers who are now staff members and drive down to Chicago where the following day we will pick up and chaperone bus loads of Birch Trail campers.

I drive up to camp and back at least a dozen times each year, but the Fathers Day drive is different.    This drive is one that I do with our staff, and these staff are almost all former campers. I have been driving generations of our camp staff in my time and through these decades we have created relationships.  To me that’s what camp is really all about – the relationships and friendships that we form with our Birch Trail families.

In the beginning when a child comes to Birch Trail for the first time, the campers and parents are nervous for that initial summer.  As each year passes the campers become more comfortable at their home away from home.  With each year at camp the relationship that we have with the family deepens.  We share a vitally important role- raising children and helping them grow.  We might only have this task for four or eight weeks, but we are truly honored that you chose to share this role with us and we take it seriously.

Most of our girls will be at camp for seven years, and families with multiple siblings will be at Birch Trail anywhere from five-twenty years.  We have one family that was sending their girls to camp for over twenty years!  It’s amazing the type of bond we have with a family after five,ten or twenty years and not a day goes by where we are not thankful for this opportunity.

After many great years of camping the campers become staff.  Their role at camp changes and they get to learn some of the magic that makes camp run. At this point the amount of communication that we have with the parents decreases.  I often talk with parents of staff members about how we miss talking with each other.  Many times parents of staff members will just call up to chat.  Sometimes it’s just nice to talk to someone who has become a friend, even when it has nothing to do with camp.

On the annual Fathers Day drive the staff call their dads from the car (sometimes even without me reminding them to); often times I will get handed the phone and get a chance to say happy Father’s Day.  It’s a great way for me to re connect a little with the parents, those parents who I don’t talk with on the phone I get to see when we drop the staff off in Chicago.  I really enjoy seeing our parents, reconnecting and reminiscing about their daughter’s new camper visit ten years ago, or that time when……..

What a great business to be in, being able to watch your kids grow from campers to staff and in turn get to grow our relationships with you as well.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Birch Trail dads and here’s to another wonderful summer.   I can’t wait to see all the friendships that are formed at camp this summer.


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