It’s easy enough for me to find inspiration to work on camp and at camp, even when nobody else is here, and to keep on going after I’m tired. My inspiration is all around me, in the very air I breathe.
It’s camp itself!
When I was a small child, my daddy would bring my brother, sister and me down to the Hill Country from Denton, and we would sing camp songs in the car, hear the tales of his boyhood in camping, play in the rapids of the Guadalupe, and sit on the banks of the river. Daddy would encourage us to be still (briefly it would work) and listen to the frogs and tree crickets, and watch the fireflies. Just the smell of the air in the Hill Country was something special.
When my brother Jon was old enough for camp (and I wasn’t yet), I begged to attend camp with him. By the time I was allowed to go to camp, I was more than ready! I loved every single moment. One of my first letters home said, “I love camp!!!” and exclamation points filled the entire page.
Then in 1966, my parents bought Camp Stewart and we moved there. My enthusiasm has never dimmed. As a family, we bought Heart O’ the Hills after the summer of 1976, and after the summer of 1987 I became director. It seemed a natural transition to me.
At the same time, I became aware that a large majority of second- and third-generation businesses fail. I would not let that happen on my watch! So I pursued my MBA. Trust me when I tell you I didn’t study business because I love business. I studied because I love camp, and the bottom line matters for keeping a camp healthy.
When the campers and counselors are gone, camp is not at all the same, but the spirits of my girls are everywhere. Their images are on the walls and fill the books of our shelves. The sounds of their voices singing, laughing and cheering fill my head. There they are–on my social media, bringing us up to date. Each time we address an envelope, consult a list of names, plan an activity, I see the faces and imagine voices and personalities of the campers or counselors or alumnae.
So in the dead of winter, we prepare for your arrival. “What should I do today to get camp ready for my girls?” fills my thoughts by day and my dreams at night. Little girls in restaurants and shops turn my head–could that be a future Heart girl? It’s the very air I breathe.
The word for “inspiration” comes from the Latin meaning “blow into” and even can mean that God has blown that breath into you. Every breath, every sound, every smell is the presence of camp. We are lucky that way.