For our 75th anniversary season, Lauren & I want to be intentional about our summer theme. We hope to crystallize the internal mantra we have lived out over the past decade. Since 1948 Blue Star has been a pioneer in the sleepaway camp space, building a community every summer where loving kindness and compassion radiate at the core. To share kindness with others, we first learn to be kind to ourselves. From that place we show kindness to all of the other ‘good people’ at camp. At the same time we act with greater awareness in honoring our beautiful natural surroundings and summer home. This generation of Blue Star campers becomes the Conservation Generation by being kind to the planet, helping ensure that the camp’s natural environment is sustained for future generations.
From Derek Thompson’s poignant article in The Atlantic (“Why American Teens Are So Sad”) https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2022/04/american-teens-sadness-depression-anxiety/629524/to a recent survey out of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (my alma mater) citing the spike in loneliness over the past two years among children and teenagers, the concept of a loneliness epidemic is clearly documented. For Lauren & me, the follow-up question is how can Blue Star be a positive force for addressing this reality head on? Rather than shy away from the challenge, we embrace it. In fact, this is our WHY! Framing this summer with a focus on practicing kindness blazes a path forward. Teaching and modeling for our campers how to be kind to ourselves is the giant first step. Our counselors and camp leaders can show campers how to practice forgiving themselves when they have acted unkindly to a cabin mate. In our daily Circle Ups, we can practice sharing something we love about ourselves with our cabin mates and counselors. Kindness can be learned.
When we are centered within ourselves, there is no limit to the kindness we can share with others. One of my teachers in the practice of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), Tara Brach, leads meditations rooted in radical compassion. How many opportunities exist in one day at camp to be kind to another camper? Consider the first time Blue Star camper trying to fit in with their cabin mates. This is a moment for a returning camper to invite their new cabin mate to join the Top Trumps card game or the GaGa pit or the Crazy Creek Chair chillax circle at waterfront. Our leadership team will shine a light on these moments and be there to encourage and support campers in seizing these kind moments.
During our Friday night Shabbat services and in daily one-on-one conversations with campers walking around camp, Lauren & I commit to shining a light on the beauty of the nature all around us at camp. As we walk and talk with campers, we will pick up pieces of Granny’s trash on the ground. Hopefully, campers will follow. In the dining halls we will announce that we are composting by shouting, “Compost…Boom!” At least, I will shout it out. Eventually, campers will follow as they have for years. We all live “10 for 2” and count the days until we get to camp. Being kind to the planet is a concrete way to do our part in maintaining the awesome nature that is our summer home away from home. Let’s be kind together…