A few weeks ago I happened upon a parenting blog by Rachel Macy Stafford that brought tears to my eyes. Reading it filled my heart with the purest of joys as it spoke to me about the way I strive to be with my own children but also the way we at camp strive to be with those who we meet at camp. I want to highlight here a few of the shining pieces of that blog.
First, the title, A Relationship Worth Protecting, was a hook for me. Every writer knows there has to be a hook if you want someone to read your writing. Rachel Macy Stafford grabbed me right away as I am someone who thinks a great deal about relationships. I think about navigating them and also how I can protect them, essentially protecting the people I love. There were lessons for me in the words on the screen. Oh, right, I quickly reminded myself, THIS is what we do at camp and suddenly it wasn't only about parenting. At camp we protect each other by building each other up, plain and simple, participant/camper centered to us is also people centered and relationship centered. This blog is a beautiful reminder starting at the very beginning, it’s title. It’s worthy to protect our relationships.
Second, a quote the author built her words from “Can you see your love for me shining through? Cuz what you see in me, I can see in you. And soon enough, you and me we’ll be out of time. And kindness will be all we can leave behind.” - Nimo Patel
It’s about love, right? We are all embraced by God’s love and are at the center of His creation. And we also have each other…human beings were created FOR love. What a gift! Again, this happens at camp. Camp is a place where love for our Creator and for each other happens every day. Our staff members give of themselves freely and humbly every day. They share their faith; they lovingly support. The smaller moments are my favorites, hiking in the rain a program staff members lends a rain coat; in the dining hall, a summer camper gets the last piece of pizza; someone loses a retainer and we see it in the trash---dumpster diving becomes a thing at camp.
The author of the blog shares this about her daughters, “Just as she is shaping her little sister’s self-esteem through words and actions, I am shaping hers.” This is true at camp as well. We as camp staff are shaping the children and the future. Every day encompasses humility and giving to others. Another layer is teaching others about this love. We often talk about the joy of letting another go first, or letting someone else have the bigger cookie and that putting ourselves second is love and pleasing to God.
Third, the author’s closing lines, “We all need someone in our corner … to have our back … to believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves. We can do that, my friends. We can do that for our sisters … our brothers … our children … and for each other. We can do that for the people who are learning how to treat others by watching us live. “
Yes! Life is so much sweeter when we are in it together, when we have each other's backs. This kindness and supporting each other speaks loudly in our Catholic teachings. St. John Bosco, CYO Camp’s patron saint, teaches us to be in and among the children, to meet them where they are, to build them up so they can become closer to God and live better lives. He took care of so many so they could grow closer to God and do the same for the next guy.
And finally, the author’s personal pledge,
The Presence Pledge
I hope you feel like a welcomed spark to my life, not an inconvenience, annoyance, or bother to my day.
I hope you feel comfortable in your skin, not constantly wondering how many things you need to change before you’re loved and celebrated.
I hope you feel heard, valued, and understood, not dismissed for being too young or too inexperienced to have an opinion or know what you need to thrive.
I hope you feel capable and confident, not incapable of doing something without constant supervision and correction.
I hope you feel brave to bare the colors of your soul, not pressured to hide your light or play small to gain acceptance.
I hope after spending an hour … a day … a lifetime in my presence,
I leave your heart fuller,
your smile wider,
your spirit stronger
your future brighter
than you could have ever imagined by yourself.
We can all strive to be THIS each and every day and honestly this is the part that made my "feels" light up. It's good and it's God; it's loving people and making the world a better place and to me this is CYO Camp. Lord knows we aren’t perfect but we give it our best and hope that people leave camp feeling loved and whole.
Angi K Sullivan, CYO Camp Co-Director
For Rachel Macy Stafford’s full blog post click here.