Dear Past and Present Merrie-Woode Staff Members,
I woke up this morning with you on my mind. All of you. My heart breaks for those of you whose semester and/or college career came to a screeching halt. My heart breaks for those of you who will lose routines and connections because of this pandemic. My heart breaks for those of you who feel lost, confused, sad, or alone.
Here’s what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning: you all are the glue that holds Merrie-Woode together each summer. I am overwhelmed by the care you show your campers, each other, and yourselves. You are your best selves when you are here, and I woke up wondering how I can help you get back to your best selves during this difficult time.
Each summer I talk with the Junior Counselors about leadership and what makes good leaders. I firmly believe that in order to lead others, we must care for ourselves first. You have probably heard me use the leadership analogy of the safety talk on airplanes, when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you help others. In order to care for ourselves first, there are three things that I urge the JCs to do each day of their JC summer that I have absorbed from various leadership experts and readings. Perhaps they may shine a small, bright light for us all in the days to come.
The first thing that I ask the JCs to do every single day of the camp session is to state three things that you are thankful for today. Not things you were thankful for yesterday or that you are looking forward to tomorrow. For what can we find gratitude today? They may be small things or big things; it doesn’t matter. All gratitude is welcome here.
Today, in this moment, I am grateful for the best chai latte I’ve made for myself in weeks, the peaceful fog rolling across my driveway as I look out of my office window, and the two little visitors who climbed in bed with me in the wee hours of the morning today to tell me the entire plot of their favorite Looney Tunes episode.
The second thing I want the JCs to practice each day is exercise, both physically and intellectually. I think that if we keep moving our bodies and our minds we’ll feel better and do better for ourselves and others. Perhaps you have a few minutes to take a walk, nothing strenuous, or discover a new online yoga workout. Maybe today is a good day to pick up a new book, devote some time to a new hobby, or FaceTime a camp friend. Personally, I’ve been trying to teach myself the ukulele this off-season, so I’ll let you know how that goes when I see you this summer!
The final thing the JCs are tasked with each day is to meditate or pray. I don’t think it matters how religious or spiritual a person you are, but I do believe that having a few moments to center our emotions and our spirit can ground us for the work ahead. In my house I’m having a hard time finding time for this, while simultaneously keeping up with my job and my first experiences of “homeschooling” my children. Let me tell you, so far it’s not pretty in our house, but I’m working on finding a moment to focus my emotions and feel some peace.
I hope these little thoughts of mine can be of comfort to each of you. Hang in there, friends, and know that I’m sending all of my love and positive thoughts your way until we can be together again.