Camp

Cat’s in the Cradle, Puff the Magic Dragon, One Tin Soldier…a bunch of sad songs that make me smile every time.

A couple of dozen rustic cabins, a pond, other unheated buildings with picnic tables and smelly kids. Canoeing, archery, arts and crafts…and the singing. The singing was the staple of our world. And I was an enthusiastic but terrible singer. It didn’t matter.

This was Camp. Yes, with a capital C. Camp Downer (believe it – what a name!). A few adults and a bunch of teenagers. Campfires. Swimming. Singing.

Culture is a word and concept that everyone’s talking about–in sports, teams and business. Entrepreneurs, influencers, coaches and leaders of all sorts talk about the importance of building culture.

At camp, however, we didn’t build culture, we just lived it. Morning reveille, the bells, the bunk beds, the cold water showers and late nights of counselors drinking in the woods. All of it – the shared experience – was glue that stuck groups together. Forever.

Pick your year. The summer of ____ can be recalled in detail by many of the teenagers who shared just eight weeks together.

Camp Downer was anything but a Downer and remains at the front of my mind forty years later because we had “culture”. We shared the the fears, the fires, the bed wetters, the fake weddings…and the songs. The rhythm of our behaviors, the “we know what’s supposed to happen next,” the bugle in the morning and Taps at night…day is done. Now you know.

We were a team. And because we were a team then, we remain a team now, through grainy pictures and comments on Facebook. The shared experience remains etched. That, and the songs.

We’ll get together then…

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