Gordie Kaplan, attended Camp Thunderbird for Boys, Bemidji, MN as a camper and staff member from 1950, at age 8, through 1967, age 26. This camp had one eight week session each summer. Some of the many things I learned at camp were the following:
I never “Boo” anyone or anything. I learned to eat what was provided for us and to be grateful for what was served because many people do not have enough to eat and to “Take what you want but eat what you take.”
I learned the one rule we had as a guideline for almost everything; “You can do whatever you like as long as it doesn’t affect yours or others health and safety or spoil the fun of someone else.”
I learned to share and work as part of a team. I learned it was ok to not be the best at everything I tried or to even be able to do everything well. I learned that everyone has something they can do well and contribute to others. I also learned what I could do well and that it was ok to feel good about these accomplishments.
I learned to care for my clothing and “stuff” and my personal hygiene, and to be neat and clean.
I learned how to try new activities.
I learned to greatly respect Native American cultures and values.
I learned to respect people who work with their hands and did not have extensive formal education. I learned to respect the rural, small town life style and most of their values (except values that were and are negative or exclusionary or prejudicial).
I learned to pay attention to details.
I learned to love the natural environment and to value wilderness. I learned to love canoe tripping and camping out especially in the Northern Minnesota and Ontario Wilderness areas.
I learned the value, fulfillment and enjoyment of doing hard work including physical work.
I learned to respect others and their property.
I learned to relate to others who differ in a whole host of ways from me and my family.
I learned to delegate. I learned to make decisions and solve problems by myself and with others. I learned to trust. I learned how to lead and how to follow.
My creative energy was unlocked and began to flourish.
I learned how to speak in public to a large group.
I learned to love folk music and to sing.
I learned much, much more but these are the things that come to conscious memory most easily.
Tales from Chippewa trails…
(Guest blogger and Executive Director at American Camping Association, Illinois Section, Inc.)