I started to think about what I would say if given the opportunity to write the counselor toast about a year ago. I don’t think there is anything more intimidating and, for me, more emotionally intense than attempting to summarize my feelings and gratitude I have for camp. After thirteen summers, I still can’t even put into concise words what camp really is, but I think I have gotten close. Camp is not an amount of time or a place- the superdome, the lake, the bunks; they will all be here when we leave. Camp is a feeling: an emotion we all share. It is the pride we exude during a game, the heart we feel during Olympics, the passion we demonstrate during leagues, or just the simple goofiness we share during a free-play. It is always there, and we feel it course through our veins by just being in the presence of one another. But what is most amazing about camp, is that we have the power each year to define it. Camp is forever evolving, and we all add to the feeling of camp that already exists from previous summers. This summer, all of you have brought something unique to contribute and share. The way we defined camp this year fills me with the utmost pride, and I am so excited to see how you guys are going to define camp in years to come.
But camp, indirectly, has its downside too. It might be hard for you guys to understand now, but eventually we need to say goodbye to camp, the place. As each summer comes to a close, it gets harder to come back. I look at you guys and am filled the strongest sense of nostalgic envy and excitement. Your camp journeys have just begun, and there is so much ahead of you.
Maybe it’s fear of the unknown or being scared of change, but leaving camp is a hard truth to swallow. We grow up here and come into our own at camp. And when we need to leave, we start to feel lost and kind of like how we did when we were first-year campers who did not know what to expect, but then you start to think back. And the feeling of camp embraces you, and suddenly you can hear the basketballs bouncing on the court, the music from the shack, the cheering from a baseball game, and even the pattering of the rain on the roofs. You are brought right back to camp.
I think why I get so emotional is because I don’t want to let go. I never want to stop coming back. I speak on behalf of all the counselor staff when I say I am forever in debt to camp and what it has done for me, and I fear what is going to happen when I am not here to help shape camp anymore. But then I am comforted by the idea that I am not actually going anywhere. Just like the counselors before me, I have done all I can to instill camp into each and every one of my campers. The impact we have as counselors stays in camp even when we aren’t here. We are all a part of it.
To the waiters of 2012- I don’t think I have ever met a group of people that drive me crazier, and whom I love more. I feel honored to call myself a waiter of 2012, and seeing how we all came together this year in the face of tragedy makes me even prouder. To the counselor staff this year, I love you all and you amaze me every day for your love and dedication to camp and the campers. To the administration, thank you so much for your guidance over the years. You have shown us all how to be selfless and how to care. And finally, to the campers, the reason why we are here, I owe you my greatest appreciation for all you have taught me. All of you make me laugh harder, think bigger, and challenge me to be a better version of myself. What I am most proud of in life is being a good counselor. I, along with all the other counselors, was once a wide-eyed junior division camper just like all of you were or are, nervous to be a part of something foreign, and my counselors showed me how to feel camp- the traditions, the culture, how to be a part of something bigger than me, and in turn I do the same for you- the campers. Everything we do is for you. I feel so grateful to be a part of this very special community; to call myself a Baco boy.
So I leave you with this; take a deep breath and look around. Take it all in. Hold onto that feeling and never let it go.
I love each and every one of you. Baco Pride.
-Maxx E., Waiter 2012