Slowing Down and Plastic Donkeys…
Yesterday, Kerry and I (and Grandma Karen and Grandpa John) took Ellie (4) and Tyler (3) to Storyland, a theme park in northern New Hampshire geared towards younger children. It was our first full day after camp ended, and we were excited to spend some time with the kiddos. As I expect that most parents do, we were running with the kids from ride to ride and game to game, barely stopping to enjoy the experience that we just had. You know, the “hurry up and have fun” mentality. “Let’s go, kiddos, we’re heading off to [fill in the blank]” was a phrase I found myself uttering often.
Now what you might not know about Ellie is that she is most definitely a stop-and-smell-the-roses type of child (both literally and figuratively). She meanders, wanders and saunters on her own agenda and timetable. She is definitely a tough one to corral, so trying to guide her to the next ride was like effectively herding a squirrel.
Sometime between shuttling everyone between the pineapple ice cream station and Cinderella’s castle, I stopped in my tracks. For reasons I can’t explain, I was transported for a moment to a Sunday Morning Meeting from this past summer. I recalled some thoughts shared by someone about “living in the moment” and appreciating the passage of time. It suddenly dawned on me that I was so busy rushing my kids from place to place that I wasn’t spending enough time being present, something we talk lots about during camp.
From that moment until we left the park, I changed my entire mindset. I let Ellie choose the pace. I watched her watching everything around her around and soaking in the energy of all the people and sights and sounds. We stopped to smell some flowers; we spent 15 minutes putting her hands in a little stream of water, feeling the cold as it rushed up to her wrists; she sat on a plastic donkey for a few minutes; she stopped to talk to a few people. I slowed down, and it was absolutely glorious and magical, and it was all thanks to another summer at Windsor Mountain.
It is moments like these that happen after camp ends that make me love our Windsor Mountain family and the experiences we all have together. There are countless memories that flood back to me over the year about a summer well-spent at this haven in the woods, where everyone learns something about themselves and changes in both small and big ways. Perhaps you already know the value of living in the moment and have taken away other gems of wisdom dropped at camp. Maybe you have become more compassionate or maybe you have gained more self-confidence by learning how to play Wagon Wheel on the guitar. Maybe you are just more comfortable in your own skin than you were 60 days ago. Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that Windsor Mountain has made a better and happier person, and I know that I am not alone.
Kerry and I are eternally grateful that we have the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people who love kids and bring such infectious energy to camp. The real magic of Windsor Mountain is found in the creative, warm, loving spirit of its staff (and also of its campers). And thank you to all of the parents out there who have placed your trust in us to let us to borrow your children for a little while to try make their lives brighter, more colorful and full of possibility.
The summer of 2013 is over, and it was beautiful. I hope you find the magic in your own lives and never forget that your Windsor Mountain family will always be awaiting your return. See you in 308 days.
With heartfelt thanks and love,
Jake and Kerry