I was giving a tour to a family today and they asked me to tell them one of the things that makes Birch Trail special. I told them that one of the biggest things that sets Birch Trail apart is our staff. Sure, we have amazing traditions, a wonderful culture and an idyllic setting, but it’s our people that are the heart of Birch Trail. Over 140 staff spend their summers at Birch Trail working to create a community where children grow.
Whether it’s devoting 3, 5, 10, or 30 years of their lives, our staff are dedicated to helping children become a better version of themselves. The staff give their time, energy, and love to camp. It’s one of the things that makes our community so special. When I take a moment to think about our staff, I am proud of them for their energy, enthusiasm and dedication. Our cabin counselors especially have a tough job, and their impact on the campers is tremendous. Our kitchen staff, nurses, trip leaders, and specialty staff all contribute their expertise to help ensure that our campers get the most out of their summers at Birch Trail. As the end of each summer draws near, I find myself bursting with gratitude for the contributions they have made to our camp community.
We also have a special group who help to keep everyone at camp safe and healthy while at camp. I would like to take a moment to thank our 2018 Camp Doctors:
The Malone Family
The Dowling Family
The Cohen Family
The Finer Family
The Lebensburger Family
The Rosenberg Family
The Schocket Family
The Gluckman Family
Speaking of camp doctors and their families, Kim Schocket wrote a great blog about the similarities between camp now and how camp felt to her some 30 years ago. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Finding Faith in the Future by Looking to the Past.
For the last few years, Matt has been the camp doctor for a week at Birch Trail, and I’ve been lucky enough to tag along. Tonight, as we left our cabin, I realized I left something behind and Matt graciously agreed to jog back and grab it. Standing there alone, somewhere between ski point and maple village, it dawned on me that this summer marks 30 years since I first walked this path. As a young girl, I came to Birch Trail far from my home in Texas and embarked on a journey that affected my life in more ways than I can count. I loved the smell of the crisp woodsy air, the peaceful sounds, and the ability to check out each summer leaving all my worries behind in a place where I could totally be myself. At camp, I gained confidence, found true friendships that continue to this day, and learned more about who I was in a world that at the time seemed so busy, stressful, and full of drama. Birch Trail truly helped shape me into the friend, wife, mother, and professional that I am today.
Walking into Emily’s cabin tonight, I watched as the girls giggled through a pile of Mad Libs; each girl taking turns adding a noun/verb until their counselors read out the funny filled in story. I too found myself laughing. It was like walking back in time. Nothing electronic, all engaged with each other, filling the cabin with true belly laughs. The kind of laughs that happen so often at camp and not enough in the outside world; laughs that are proven to be stress reducing, mood boosting, and help to decrease anxiety and depression. As I said goodnight and started my walk down that same path to my cabin, I found myself chocked up with emotion and I smiled through my tears.
Looking back, my young world was nothing compared to the fast and furious world our children live in today. 30 years ago, we couldn’t begin to conceive of cell phones, social media, cyberbullying, and soaring rates of teen suicide. Today, it is even more important that girls can come here, to this special spot in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, that is so much more the same than it is different. Watching this next generation participate in similar daily activities, outrageously fun evening programs, and carry on the same traditions I did, gives me confidence that these girls are gaining the same things I did from camp. Our girls are learning strength, confidence, teamwork, and what it means to be kind to others and make a difference in the world. Birch Trail is an environment unlike any I have ever been a part of. In a world that is so quick to judge, this place provides girls with an environment where they are free to explore themselves without fear of failing. Gabe, Barbara, Emma, Erin, and the entire staff champion each and every girl who passes through these cabins. They encourage and bring out the best in each of our daughters; each girl leaving here a better person than when they arrived.
I feel so fortunate to be able to come up to camp & see my daughter in a place that is so special to me. I started writing this post to talk about the incredible benefit I see camp providing for Emily, and what I’ve realized during my week here is that even now camp continues to provide the same benefits to me. Being at camp reminds me of my authentic self, steadies me in this complex and crazy world, and truly brings out the best in me. Tomorrow our week comes to an end, and I am sad to leave this special place that I love now as much as I did 30 years ago. So now, it’s not just Emily counting down the days until camp – it’s me too. ☺