We like to project sunshine and rainbows here at camp, but it’s time for some real talk. This social distancing is hard. Those of us who live at camp find ourselves very fortunate to be “safer at home” here…we have 400 acres of camp to hike and explore, and are enjoying clearing trails and having the time to explore. We haven’t seen any campers for almost a month. “Camp People” love people. We love songs. We love connection. We love seeing…people…people succeed, people love, people laugh. Alex, Jamie, and Carlee are getting to spend some great time with their dogs, Stevie is “stuck” in Australia, and I am able to spend time my goats and cats (I have been called a “cat lady” in the past…you should see me now!) The truth is, we miss you. We miss all of the campers, your families, our staff/volunteers/AmeriCorps members. We say over and over during training at camp: Camp isn’t the place, it’s the people.
And that is what is missing at camp right now.
Adjusting to the Times
I can imagine that things aren’t sunshine and rainbows for all of you at home. We all well know what the mood of camp is like after a few days of rain and we have all been stuck inside…most “indoor activities” completed, camp songs sung, and you can only paint everyone’s nails so many times. I can imagine how some of you are having to adjust to social distancing. We have talked with campers who have to talk to their mom while she stands outside their window at their group home. Families whose routines are all off, and the members of your families who are struggling…even more than you. Here at Esaterseals Wisconsin as a whole, the summer season is our “black Friday” – the majority of our income comes in during the summer, and we are scared to think of what would happen if it didn’t. We are making all of the plans: to have camp, to start camp late, you name it. WE ARE STILL PLANNING ON SUMMER CAMP AS USUAL, but have no control over what the future holds.
On a personal note, Easter is one of the few weekends throughout the year that all of us at camp get to go home to our families…Easter and Thanksgiving. My dad passed away four years ago, and his birthday is on the 11th. I was looking forward to being with my mom, brother, and sister at the farm where I grew up, celebrating our dad because his birthday fell on Easter weekend when we would all be together. We are all trying to project sunshine, but I am also learning it is also OK to say “this really kind of…sucks.” I am surviving on hope, and eating lots of popcorn these days.
A Home Away from Home
Please know that we are not only missing you all, but can’t wait to be back to being a part of your world. Camp is that safe place for respite and fun, while families and even group home staff have a bit of a reprieve. It’s a place where staff and volunteers reconnect with nature, new and old friends alike, and themselves. Our families who visit during our Veterans Family Camp have called camp their time to reconnect as a family, and with nature. For all of us…camp is our home away from home…and we are missing it.
For the Love of Camp
Saying all of this, we have to stay home. We have to stay safe. So many of our friends who come to camp could be compromised if they get sick. We have to stay home so we can get back to our home away from home.
Take care of you,