Reflections from a Former Camper
It takes some serious effort for me to remember a summer before Tapawingo. It is nearly impossible for me to look back on my childhod without referencing camp. I've written numerous school essays detailing some Tap experience, I have a consistent array of camp pictures which illustrate my walls, and my stories often begin "This one time at camp...."
How can a place I loved when I was nine still define me now at age nineteen? It's because Tapawingo is, in essence, the most unchanging place I've even known. Yes, there have been additions and subtractions, which are considered by most campers to be monumental. The painting of the bunks, the loss of "the tree" (which we are still mourning this summer) ... these events seem to break the natural order of Tapawingo which is so deeply rooted in traditions, some of which reach as far back as 1919. Even the beds, as many campers and counselors know, are historic. And though camp itself resists change, it is paradoxically the place where I personally feel I've grown the most. Every summer I've spent here has been a different experience, particularly this year, my first time as a counselor, and what has proven to be my most challenging time at Tap.
I understand through this new position here that reflections on camp do not typically reveal a mirror image of the past. It seems that each time I've returned, the bell appears a little smaller, the lake slightly more shallow, and the turtle a little friendlier and without the claws I imagined as a camper. I've grown up alongside Sylvie, Grace, Jo, Molly, and Brianna. Although we have all changed, everything falls into place when we are back at Tap. It is as if nothing here has shifted, although our lives outside of camp are constantly evolving. Some may say that when we are back here, we unintentionally regress to our youth, forever campers, but I personally think otherwise. I believe that the sameness which Tapawingo has unquestionably provided for us each summer has allowed us to remember who we once were and retrace who we have become. The '99 quilt in the dining room serves as a constant reminder for me of my 10 year old self, a happy although severely awkward Lo Mid. I can return to my old bunks and find my name printed upon the ceiling or sing loudly at meals, still realizing that I am now past my camper days.
It is easy to see here how I and others around me have matured as the backdrop of Tapawingo remains, to quote the camp song, "untouched by time".
Unfortunately, it is easy to forget the past as we become absorbed in our lives at school or work, and I can see this happen to me with each year I spend away from Tap. That is why I am thankful that I returned this summer. Thank you campers for helping me to remember my summers at camp. So many memories come back to me as I watch you all. Thank you staff for allowing me to appreciate camp in a new light and supporting me as waterfront ambassador.
For those of you who don't fully value this summer yet, know that in hindsight you may gain a clearer perspective of this place. There is still a week left. Hold on to this time and keep it fresh in your thoughts as long as you can. Although Tap will remain, you inevitably will grow. Breathe in the fresh Maine air, touch the bottom of the lake, and enjoy the sound of the trumpet even if it may be 7:30 in the morning. Don't take anything for granted. It will soon be a memory.