I spend much of my time walking the grounds of Timberlake. I walk around to see my staff teaching our campers how clean (or not as clean as I’d like!) the cabins are, the faces of the campers as they go about the day, and the inflatable swans on the waterfront. I’ve been able to walk the grounds in every season, luxuriating in the changing leaves of the fall, marveling at how small camp looks when covered in snow, and the green brilliance of new growth in the spring. Of course, the magic of the grounds is when you can hear the laughter of our campers during the summer.

I spend much of my time deep in thought. I’m hyper-aware that my role as Director is as a caretaker to the entire community, holding the light of Timberlake for all those here right now, those yet to come, and all those that have come before us in our 80 years of existence. Timberlake constantly reminds me of this:

  • We sing songs reading from decades-old song cards, written by someone who thought that particular song embodied the TL spirit;
  • We live in cabins that were built by campers. Alumni come back, point to a particular part, and say, “I put in that nail right there;”
  • We have signage and cabin plaques decades old, with names proudly written to remind us, today, that they were here;
  • We walk trails that were chosen for us, designed to create the space we inhabit not with a grandmaster plan but simply as the community evolved;
  • I have staff who were my campers at one point, and I am a couple of years out from having their campers start to work with us – I’m almost a TL-grandpa!

I spend a lot of time thinking about the structures – how did we build such large structures with simple tools? Could we do it again? How do we fight the energy of our Senior Lodgers who seem to not want to do anything at all (which is totally developmentally appropriate)?

The answer, of course, is simple – we called them to greatness. We’re doing that again with our oldest kiddos. As our youngest ones packed out for trips, we led the rest of camp on a very special tour of Timberlake. Our staff who used to be campers walked our current campers around, pointing out all the structures they’ve worked on. We wound our way to the old council fire area by Lumberjacks cabin, an area I want to reclaim as a new sacred space where 60+ can sit around a large fire. We had a giant fire waiting and we gathered around and read Kahlil Gibran’s “On Work,” the piece where we find the keystone phrase, “Work is love made visible.” We wrote down our giant goals for the final week to hang in the lodge and burned in the fire the things that are holding us back from achieving them. Finally, we had an evening silent meeting around that big, beautiful fire.  We left ready to leave our marks.

During senior small camp, we are trying what we’re calling Legacy Cycles – 3 days, morning and afternoon, of dreaming (and doing)  big. We will finish siding the Upper Lodge, put the roof on the infirmary porch, build the fair fire, install an herb garden, swim many Grand Circuits around the lake, and so much more. Our campers are excited to leave their legacy. They chose to have a summer of greatness, and it is waiting for those willing to put in the work (and the heart!) to make that happen.

Camp magic for real, y’all. It reverberates through the ages, like ripples in a pond.

Want more updates besides the blog? Follow us on Instagram: BigBellTL and check out our TL photo album on Smugmug (at farmandwildernesscamps.smugmug.com).

–          Jarod


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