On my trip north last week, I found out that you can go home again. Like some of the best lessons, it is something I guess I already knew. But it never hurts to be reminded once more.
What I did was spend some time at a camp I attended as a camper for two years, and then, about ten years later, I spent two full summers there on staff. So it is a place that is special to me, that has a beauty and serenity that doesn't change. I found it still has the effect on me that I mentally exhale a soft "ah-h-h-h" when I arrive.
To me, it's the people who make some place really special, and that's the way it is at this camp, too. I am blessed to have several friendships that began there and have endured over the years since. Of course, those friends and I aren't still directly involved with the camp now, although our lives are still connected.
There are still plenty of good folks staffing this camp. Their sincerity and caring is just the same as it was in the 1970s staff with whom I was associated. These young adults are enthusiastic and fun, too, and make sure there's plenty of that for the campers as well. What I observed on my recent visit is the 21st century version of those qualities that have built and established this camp for almost ninety years now. From what I saw, there's no problem with it going forward.
And I noticed, too, that there's still a certain type of young adult male who wants to be on a camp staff. What hasn't changed is that they are slightly scruffy and shaggy. Often their clothes look like either a) they are the last things they have that are clean or b) aren't really clean at all and have to do or c) have been slept in. Caps are generally worn backward. Usually they need a haircut or a shave. Remember that when I was there this time camp hadn't even started yet.
The beach and the lakes and the sand dunes and the trails and the woods are all still there, basically unchanged since way before I first set foot on the grounds. We all know that sometimes it feels like the whole world has shifted, that our culture has changed too much over time. That's when a place that feels quite untouched is a comfort.
Perhaps we all need places like this in our lives, so we are blessed if we get to have such a reference to carry with us. Sometimes you don't really need to physically be home at all, because it's always with you.