Last month, we introduced to you all  Camp Echo Lake’s Foundations.  This week we are highlighting one of our foundations, discovery.


  • As Echo Lakers we try new things, build new friendships, and continue to learn new skills in order to grow and evolve.
  • Why?  Healthy risk-taking and stepping outside of where you are comfortable allows you to go farther than you thought you could.


Please enjoy Matt’s blog post about discovery and hear more about why it is such a crucial part of what we promote at CEL.

In writing about Discovery this week, I searched for a poem I use to love when I was in elementary school – it is call The Things that Havent Been Done Before by Edgar Guest. I have included a portion of it at the bottom of this post because I kept thinking about it as I was reflecting on what discovery means to us. At the core of everything we choose to do at Camp Echo Lake, even the choice of coming to Echo Lake, there lies discovery. Whether it is in the water, on the fields, or off site on a trip, the choice to discover something new and push yourself outside your comfort zone is ever present. Sometimes we choose to stay close to what we know and discover the nuances of what is already familiar, and other times we push ourselves to discover what our limits truly are. Whether you are a camper, parent, new staff member, or a returner, Camp offers an opportunity to for you to discover in a variety of ways each summer!

I remember when I made my initial choice to join Echo Lake on staff nearly 10 years ago – it was a choice that was fueled almost exclusively by the desire to discover something new. I had grown up, went to school, and subsequently went to college with many of the same people. I remember sitting at my desk during freshmen year, trying to think if I had ever put myself in a social, professional, or academic situation where I did not have at least one friend or mutual friend to fall back on if I ever felt lonely. As I tried to come up with an example when I was left to my own devices in social setting, I could not think of even one in my entire life. So from this thought experiment I went out looking for a new adventure where I could discover my strengths and weaknesses in a completely new environment. Needless to say, I think I did pretty well finding Echo Lake!

While my example of what I set out to discover at Camp may be unique to me, everyone has a story of discovery embedded in their decision to join our community. Perhaps your parents went to Camp and it is an opportunity for you to discover shared experiences, lifelong friendships and impactful moments. For others, it may be an opportunity to discover new skills, or for staff to discover where their real professional passions lie. In any of these case, for most Camp is something out of the ordinary; something that needs to be discovered and is not often stumbled upon. Therefore, for each of us as Echo Lakers, we have an inherent sense of discovery driving us forward.

Beyond those big moments of discovery, however, every day at Camp offers countless smaller moments to try new things or experience something new. There are obvious opportunities like elective sign-ups or deciding to join an inter-camp team, but there are also even smaller moments that can offer the greatest potential for discovery. These are the moments when you choose to reach out to a new friend in the bunk or help someone else clean their area. Or the moments between activities when you learn something new about someone in your group. Not only do these small moments help fuel the everyday magic of Camp, but cumulatively they are what make up the greatest opportunities for development.

When we discuss the foundations of human development, it does not seem possible to paint that picture without including discovery. A sense of discovery is what drives nearly everything we do at camp. It is the curiosity to try to new things and make new friends. The openness and flexibility to push yourself and try your best. It is the comfort of mind to stop every once in a while, to take stock of the small moments that impact us every day. Discovery truly is what leads us on our unique and exciting adventures.

I do not think that anyone in the Echo Lake community lacks a sense of discovery, but in the lead up to Camp, and when you arrive in June, make sure you think about all the new things you want to discover! Try to stay open to new opportunities, and look to push yourself whenever possible. Camp is one of the safest and most supportive places to try new things, so use it as the as your discovery playground!

The Things that Havent Been Done Before

by Edgar Guest

The many will follow the beaten track

With guideposts on the way.

They live and have lived for ages back

With a chart for every day.

Someone has told them it’s safe to go

On the road he has traveled o’er,

And all that they ever strive to know

Are the things that were known before.

A few strike out without map or chart,

Where never a man has been,

From the beaten path they draw apart

To see what no man has seen.

There are deeds they hunger alone to do;

Though battered and bruised and sore,

They blaze the path for the many, who

Do nothing not done before.

The things that haven’t been done before

Are the tasks worthwhile today;

Are you one of the flock that follows, or

Are you one that shall lead the way?

Are you one of the timid souls that quail

At the jeers of a doubting crew,

Or dare you, whether you win or fail,

Strike out for a goal that’s new?