August 31st, 2014, Shelburne Airport, Ireland. Approximately 4am. As I ascended the escalator in search of my gate, a man turns to me and queries “is that Echo Lake in Warrensburg?” It took me a second to process the question, I then realised that I was wearing a CEL Sweatshirt AND it was 4am after all. I was beginning the final leg of my journey home from another incredible summer at camp, and let’s this be honest, this was the last place I was expecting to run into a CEL Alumni.
My response, slightly bemused was “Yes, do you know it?”. It transpired that the gentleman who had approached me was a CIT in 1995 and begun to question me about a number of different camp traditions “How did they break tribal?”, “Do they still give out Fuzzies?”, “Do they still do Apache?”. Whilst I answered each of his questions in turn, I was struck by just how powerful the magic of camp is. Here I was, on the other side of the world, in a small airport terminal, having a conversation with a complete stranger, yet we shared something that we both held so dear.
The “magic of camp” is something that we talk about during the summer, but it is hard to describe to someone that hasn’t had the opportunity to spend a summer ‘neath the pines at a place we are all fortunate to call our summer home. However, once you are struck with that magical feeling you can only experience at Echo Lake, you never forget it. It is obvious to me, that even all these years later, this complete stranger was transported back to his summers at Echo Lake all due to the sighting of my sweatshirt, and we shared that connection, that magic, as we discussed our favorite summer home. How lucky are we that we get to be a part of this small group of people, in comparison to the number of people in the world, that get to know just what that magical feeling is?