We woke up to a slightly overcast day at Takajo, but no one minded as it was Lazy Man’s Morning, which means Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. Our boys really appreciate the extra hour of sleep and relaxed pace to our morning, especially after three, packed weeks of activities. During rest hour, our seven registered nurses made their rounds and visited every bunk. They checked each of our boys from head to toe. We do this every week in order to make sure we are not missing any of your son’s medical needs. By mid-afternoon, the sun was shining bright and temperatures reached the low 80’s, similar to the forecast that is being predicted all week long.
In the evening, the entire camp came together in the MJG Playhouse, named after our camp’s founder, Morty J. Goldman. Takajo was founded in 1947, and Morty built this playhouse just a few years later in 1951. While Takajo was already considered by many as a premier sports camp, Morty felt it was important to build a camp that offered a wide range of activities. He decided to build the playhouse even before he built indoor rec. halls and sports complexes. Some of the most memorable evenings to ever take place in camp occurred on stage in the MJG Playhouse.
Tonight was no exception. Our Senior campers were in prime form as they entertained us with a Broadway favorite, The Lion King. This play had never been done before at camp, yet it was preformed to perfection by our Senior boys and featured wonderful cameos by some of our amazing staff. As I was watching the performance, I could not help but reflect on conversations I have had with one of our stars in the play.
This young man is as kind and gentle as anyone we have ever had at Takajo. Yet for some reason, he questioned whether he should have returned this summer. He loves his bunkmates and feels very much at home on Long Lake. Nevertheless, his summer started with deep contemplation. He commented to me at one point during our conversations that he admires those he watches shine on our athletic fields and how they receive such accolades for their talents. I responded by telling this young man that the playhouse stage is the only activity in camp where the whole community gets to witness a star performance.
This camper has never considered himself a star but was able to take a step back and recognize that his talents are admired and respected as much as any other person in this camp. As I watched this actor take his final bow to a roaring ovation, I could not help but think of Morty Goldman’s vision to recognize that there are many ways for a camp to build self-confidence and self-esteem. For our thespians this evening, you made our founder proud.
With just one week to go before visiting day, I find myself reflecting on where we are as a community as we approach the halfway mark of the season. There is an expression at Camp Takajo, “The days are long, but the weeks fly by.” I do my best to soak up each and every moment in a day because I know once visiting day passes, the summer seems to fly by.
Today, we hosted a 14-and-under flag football tournament, and the Takajo Invitational Swim Meet. It was hard for me to know where to put myself, as I bounced back and forth between the waterfront and our playing fields. While our swim team placed second of five camps in the meet, our football players prevailed on the gridiron.
One of the things I enjoy most about being a camp director is my interaction with the campers when I go into their bunks to say goodnight. I visit the bunks every evening for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly, I am a huge believer that you can tell a lot about a child by looking into their eyes. When I walk into each bunk, I am very conscious of each child’s demeanor. I look at whether they are interacting with their bunkmates or sitting alone on their beds, whether they look relaxed and content after a long day or sad and alone.
Very often, a pat on the head, a warm embrace or a brief conversation is all that it takes to let our little guys know they are loved and cared for at camp. I also believe in visiting the bunks in the evenings because it is a wonderful way for me to make sure that our staff is managing the health and wellness of our campers. Showering every night, brushing teeth, placing dirty clothing into the laundry bag– these are things that we expect our counselors to oversee on a daily basis. I chuckle when I hear a counselor say, “Come on guys, brush your teeth. Jeff is one bunk away.”
As I made my rounds this evening, one of the Warrior bunks asked me to tell them a story. It has become a ritual with this bunk of boys because they like to hear me re-cap the day. The other day, I had told them the heroic story of our 15-and-under baseball team and how they came back in the bottom of the final inning to win the game. The boys sat at the end of their beds and listened to every word I said. However, tonight’s story was a little different. It was about our 15-and-under lacrosse team, which consisted of some of the most talented lacrosse players Takajo has had in many years. Many of these boys play on high-level travel teams and focus all their athletic attention on this sport.
With great excitement and anticipation, our 15-year-old boys traveled to a nearby camp to compete in a lacrosse tournament and were shocked to end up on the losing end in their first game of the tournament. The boys were deflated, looked at each other for answers and thought about how to redeem themselves in the next game. At the end of the second game, Takajo once again fell short and was eliminated from the tournament. One of the boys in the bunk stopped me in mid-sentence and said, “This is not a happy ending, Why are you telling us this story?” My response was very simple. While we may have had some of the best individual players, we could not figure out how to play as a team. Competition on the field is a microcosm of life, and it requires communication, teamwork, and the ability to handle stress under pressure to be successful.
One of the little boys said, “There is no ‘i’ in team,” and I smiled. These little boys learned that something positive can come from a defeat.
I was talking to some of our Senior campers this morning, and they remarked that they have never been so physically tired yet so ecstatically happy, both at the same time. There has not been a day at Camp Takajo this summer when these boys have not been physically pushed to be at their best. What was most refreshing during our conversation was that the boys acknowledged they feel healthier and happier without having access to their phones as much as they normally do at home. They commented that they are living in the moment rather than reflecting on someone else’s.
These boys shared with me how much time they devote to screens every day at home. At Takajo, our boys have an opportunity to master the lost art of face-to-face communication. They value the importance of looking into someone’s eyes when engaged in a conversation. They share stories around the dining room table or lay on their beds reflecting about their day before falling asleep and embrace the fact that they are not distracted by technology. I have always viewed camp as a healthy place for a child to spend his summer.
As much as I love sports and enjoyed playing throughout my childhood and into college, I have never considered it as the primary focus of our program. I believe the most important thing we teach children is life skills– how to live with others, patience, empathy and compassion for one another. Long after your son’s playing days are over, the skills that will matter most will be his life skills. Clearly, a child comes to Takajo looking forward to playing sports, taking advantage of the waterfront, shooting archery and building projects at hobbies, but throughout your son’s day, he must learn how to navigate through challenging social scenarios.
Throughout my day, I spend significant time talking to our boys about brief moments in time when things might not go their way. Very often, you may bear the brunt of that when it is expressed in a letter or phone call. I recently sat down with a 12-year-old boy who has had great success at camp over the last few years but struggles with missing home. This boy is kind, compassionate and well-liked. However, I can almost predict the time in the season that he will have his dip. While sitting together last night, I reminded him of an analogy that helped put the fear of missing home in its proper perspective.
I said, “Imagine waking up one morning only to see a horrible rash all over your face. The panic sets in, you wonder if that rash will ever disappear, or will it affect your looks forever? A visit to the doctor and a prescription for some cream, the rash disappears, and you feel like yourself again. Around the same time a year later, you look in the mirror, and this same rash has reappeared. This time, you don’t become emotional because you have the tools and wisdom to avoid the anxiety.”
The point that I made to this camper was that he has gained the tools to manage his source of apprehension, and he should not be startled when this emotional response reappears. Just as the cream manages the rash, being engaged in activities and immersing yourself into the program manages the anxiety of being away from home.
Week 3 at Camp Takajo has flown by. Without a doubt, our boys are loving the routine and extra curriculum events. We are in full camp spirit.
Once again, we packed a lot into our day. Our Braves (campers who finished third grade) boarded a bus and headed to Seacoast Adventure for an amazing day at the water slides, miniature golf, and arcade. Our Junior Greens (boys who finished fifth grade) made their way to Old Orchard Beach, where they had a fun day of riding roller coasters and playing in arcades. Our 12-year-old boys participated in a basketball round-robin tournament at a neighboring camp and at Takajo, creating an opportunity for more boys to participate in this popular sport. Our 14-year-old boys hosted a neighboring camp in a baseball game and continued our winning streak on our home field.
Today, Camp Takajo was also the host of our annual sailing regatta and tennis invitational. Temperatures reached the low 80’s, and there was a slight wind coming across Long Lake. It is often said that the mark of a true sailor is one who can handle a boat in light wind. Our boys showed great skill in sailing our sunfish and took first place in this long-standing event.
Our tennis team competed with great passion and heart but fell short of winning the invitational. It is easy to hold your head high in victory, but the true measure of one’s character is how one handles the difficult moments. I was incredibly impressed with our tennis staff, their coaching style was full of encouragement, and boundless energy fueled our boys to try their hardest against some very talented opponents. However, there are two matches in particular that stood out to me.
The 14-and-under singles was a full Takajo final. As I watched our boys compete, I reflected on the first time I met each camper seven years ago. One camper lived in New York City. I remember visiting him in his home and sitting at his kitchen table as his mother graciously offered me sushi. I remember feeling so welcomed in their home as we spoke about the opportunities we would provide for this little boy. The dad was a college tennis player and wanted to make sure our program would offer his son quality instruction and the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
The other camper resides in Bethesda, Maryland, and he visited me with his parents in my office when he was eight years old. I remember sitting with his mom and dad as they described their shy son as athletic. While I was incredibly impressed with the skill these two young men displayed on the court, what stood out to me even more was the mutual respect they had for each other’s game. They complimented each other after each winning shot and at one point shook hands and chest bumped as they switched sides in the middle of the match. Their friendship and respect for one another were far more meaningful to those who watched this match than the final outcome. To see these boys walk off the court together, you would be hard pressed to know who won and who lost. Keeping competition in its proper perspective is one of our standards.
The other match that stood out today was a 10-and-under tennis doubles match against an opposing camp. Our doubles team found themselves behind two games at the beginning of the match. It is not uncommon to see little boys become frustrated and tense up under this extreme pressure. The bleachers were packed, and campers from both camps cheered on their players. Our boys battled back and tied the match and from that moment in the match, the score was never separated by more than a game. More campers from each camp lined the tennis fences. The applause grew louder after each point, yet somehow, our boys managed to keep their focus and composure. We fell behind 7-6 with our team trying to hold serve. We scratched and clawed, brought the game back to deuce and eventually tied up the match 7-7. Could there be any more pressure than playing in a tiebreaker at the final of a Takajo Tennis Invitational? With remarkable poise and confidence, our little guys never lost faith in each other and squeaked out a heroic victory to claim the 10-and-under championship.
Competition is a microcosm of what takes place in our daily lives. It takes drive, determination, handwork, and perseverance to reach your goals and even with all the effort, you sometimes come up short. While our team may not have achieved their main goal, they had a great time trying.
We woke up this morning to the kind of weather that makes you smile and want to hop out of bed. Bright sunshine and cool temperatures, today brought perfect weather for our boys at Camp Takajo. Over the last few days, I have mentioned a lot about the inter-camp schedule and some of the memorable moments our boys have had on the playing fields.
This morning, our Okees had another treat when they were allowed to sleep in past reveille and were awakened to a home cooked breakfast out on the Senior Quad prepared by their group leader, Paddy Mohan. Paddy is famous for his bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, and our groggy older boys stumbled out of bed and hovered around the grill as they watched him prepare a breakfast fit for a king. After their bellies were full, our Okees boarded a bus and headed to Fun Town Splash Town for an enjoyable day at the water park followed by dinner and a movie before returning back to camp.
Our Intermediate (13-year-old) boys boarded a bus to Old Orchard Beach, a seaside town with an amusement park that is one of our boys’ favorite getaways. Our Inters enjoyed going on the rides, eating pizza on the boardwalk and hanging out on the beach. Sometimes it is the little moments that create the biggest memories. For example, our Crows (youngest campers) made s’mores over a campfire and slept in our tree houses. Our Junior Green campers challenged their older counterparts, the Junior Greys, to a baseball challenge in front of a packed crowd. With each experience our boys collect, their roots are grounded deeper into the foundation of our camp.
The other night, I was on the back side of our campus near the climbing wall when I heard the sound of tattoo. A hundred yards in front of me, I noticed Warrior Group Leader Hank Fortin, who is here for his 48th consecutive summer at Takajo. Hank arrived as a young man teaching baseball to our senior campers. As a school teacher, he had his summer free so he made Takajo his summer home. He later married his wife, Jane, and together they have cared for our youngest campers. I have always had incredible respect and admiration for Hank, not just for his loyalty and commitment to Takajo but because of the example he sets as a husband and as a father.
As the sound of tattoo echoed across campus, I noticed that Hank paused and stood at attention by bowing his head and taking a private moment to reflect. I am not sure what Hank was thinking about but I marveled at the fact that here he was alone on the back side of campus after 48 summers of camp, and he still pauses to take a moment to honor the bugle call and reflect on his day. I didn’t think much more about that moment until this evening when tattoo was played. This time, I was at the center of the campus, standing outside a few bunks of Junior campers.
As this beautiful sound played, I noticed the counselors and campers in one bunk laying on their beds and ignoring the meaning behind this bugle call. For those of us in camp, this call represents the end of a day, and it’s a moment of reflection. It is a time to give thanks for the opportunities that we have, reflect on those we love and miss and think about the importance of what we contributed to the day. As one might suspect, these boys and their counselors were a little startled when I opened the door to their bunk and questioned why they were not taking a moment to honor this bugle call. While the boys were very apologetic and stood to attention, I tried to explain to them that I was not looking for them to please me but rather to take a quiet moment to reflect about themselves.
Too often in life, we fail to take a moment to stop and give thanks for what we have. We fail to take a moment to reflect on the impact we have had on others or think about those we love. My hope for these boys and counselors is that someday they will hear this call, and like Hank, they will want to take the opportunity to be thankful for what is most important in life.
There are events in a child’s life that can truly define his camp experience. This morning, I witnessed one of these events. Our 15-and-under baseball team took the field to host a neighboring camp in their final inter-camp baseball game of this season. Many of our 15-year-old boys have been playing together since they were little Warriors on our smallest fields. Their relationships have developed into deep friendships– a trust and bond that could only form from sharing countless moments together in a camp setting.
Trust is formed in so many ways. It could be a subtle wink or nod to let your friend know you have their back or as overt as stepping in and performing an act of kindness. These campers share their meals and laughs together around the dining room table. They sit together at line-up and stay up into the late hours of the evening recounting funny stories that took place during the course of the day. Our Senior boys entered Takajo as a bunch of individuals but are now a cohesive unit enveloping every experience that comes their way.
During the first inning of the baseball game, two power hitters from the opposing team hit towering home runs. One went over our left field fence onto our basketball court and another over the right field fence onto the tennis court. The cheers and excitement erupted from our visitor’s bench, but our young men composed themselves and never gave up. Our coach went out onto the field and summoned our long, lean right-hander to step onto the mound. With the poise and confidence of a major leaguer, our six-footer gave his teammates a renewed sense of purpose and hope. It was fascinating for me to watch the communication that took place on the baseball field. It was not the verbal communication one would expect, but the wink, the nod, the tip of the cap, the thumbs up hand gesture, and the baseball glove over the heart. As each inning passed, the boys dug in and made incredible defensive plays to end rallies.
Our bats came alive, and our players were aggressive on the bases. Nevertheless, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Takajo was trailing by a score of 8 to 4. At camp, they constantly hear the message, “Never give up, never give up.” At the bottom of the seventh, their heads were held high, and they were prepared to fight until the final out. We started a rally and loaded the bases– a walk, a single, aggressive base running, and before we knew it, we were trailing by only one run, 8 to 7.
While we had runners on second and third bases, there were two outs. Stepping into the batter’s box was our tall right-hander, the same player who came in to assume pitching duties a few innings before in relief. He was now at the plate with the game on the line. He battled the opposing pitcher until the count was full, 3 and 2. As the pitcher hurled a fast ball straight over the plate, our right-hander ripped a shot between first and second bases making it easy for our runner on third to score. Knowing the game was precariously positioned, our man on second ran with urgency and purpose, rounded third, making his way home for the winning run. As he crossed home plate, the stands erupted and could be heard throughout the entire campus. In heroic fashion, the boys came from behind and won their final baseball game on the Takajo diamond.
For our 15-year-olds, this game was a thrill of a lifetime, but for me, this experience represents so much more than just a dramatic win. These young men have grown up, laughed, and cried together. They have had their share of victories and losses, but the trust and respect they have for one another is far more valuable than today’s victory.
As one might expect, the third week of the summer at Camp Takajo is loaded with goodies. Every age group will be going out on fun day trips throughout the week. Today, our youngest campers, Warrior Crows, spent an amazing day at Sebago Lake State Park. They enjoyed swimming, playing on a beautiful beach and throwing frisbees and footballs. They then headed to a nearby movie theater for lunch and watched Incredibles 2 in their own reserved room. Our little guys came back to camp all smiles after this fun-filled day.
Our Warrior Indians (campers who finished fourth grade) hosted a friendly competitor from New Hampshire in a full day of athletic competition. Our guys could barely sleep last night as they anticipated the first field day of their Takajo careers. Every camper had the opportunity to participate in three sporting events throughout the day, ranging from basketball, baseball, flag football, and hockey to tennis and gaga. Our boys were great hosts and displayed the kind of sportsmanship that would make any parent proud.
Some of our 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys, who love to play tennis but might not qualify for some of the higher-level tournaments, had the opportunity to head to a local camp for an all-day tennis tournament. This was a perfect event to allow these boys to have a full day of tennis competition against boys of comparable ability. We participated in two 12-and-under soccer tournaments today. One team traveled to a neighboring camp, and in return, we hosted an event that gave every interested boy the chance to compete in soccer inter-camp.
Four camps came to us this morning to participate in Takajo’s annual Rock Climbing Competition. We had campers competing in 11-, 13- and 15-under categories. Campers were scored based on the difficulty of the path they choose to climb, as well as the time it took them to make it to the top of the wall. I was very proud of our boys for their amazing effort. If that is not enough to pack into one day, our Senior campers who have a passion for golf made their way to Point Sebago to take in 18 holes on this magnificent Maine day. Finally, our 15-year-olds competed in a flag football tournament, a sport that has been increasing in popularity at camp. Our boys displayed superb skill and perseverance as they played multiple games on an opposing camp’s turf.
After a full day of competition, our 11-year-olds showered, sprayed themselves down in their fathers’ cologne, and hosted Camp Vega for dinner and a dance. Our 13-year-olds freshened up, boarded a bus and headed to Tripp Lake Camp for their social. Our Sub-seniors (campers who finished eighth grade) had a full day of camp activities, then grabbed a shower in the late afternoon before also heading to Camp Vega for their social. After a few hours of dinner and mingling, our Sub-Seniors headed north to the Kennebec River, where they retired for the evening in preparation for meeting the ladies from Camp Vega for a co-ed rafting trip. Similarly, our 15-year-old boys freshened up after their full day of activities and made their way over to a neighboring camp. This camp is hosting the social for 15-year-old campers from several of the local camps in this par of the state. Hundreds of teenagers gathered for a fun evening to socialize, which created a great sense of camaraderie for many of the camps in Maine.
This is the week when we truly hit our stride. The combination of these incredible events creates a great break in our routine from our regular daily schedule. The ability to compete with your friends and take in the sights of Maine on these fun day trips are what create the memories that will last a lifetime. As our boys retired to bed under a starlit sky, a cool breeze came across our campus providing the perfect weather for nuzzling under their blankets and getting a deep restful sleep. Reveille is just a few hours away and tomorrow we do it all over again.
A few days before I was scheduled to leave for Maine to prepare for the upcoming summer, my wife and I decided that we should take our son Max to the pediatrician for a checkup because his energy level was low, and he just seemed off. Max’s birthday is on June 10, so he was two weeks away from his annual physical, however, I did not want to depart for Camp Takajo without knowing that he was okay. In the pediatrician’s office, we described Max’s symptoms, and a blood test indicated that his blood sugar level, which should be in the 100 range, was over 700.
The pediatrician looked at Max and without hesitation said, “You are diabetic and need to go directly to the emergency room.” As you would imagine, my heart sank as I tried to compose myself and process this very upsetting news. Max and I drove directly to the hospital where he was admitted, and we spent the next four nights together learning about type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels and how to inject insulin into the body. I remember Max saying to me, “Dad, I’m just 15 years old. Does this mean I can’t just take something from the refrigerator or the pantry and eat like a normal guy for the rest of my life?”
During our hospital stay, there was a constant stream of endocrinologists, nurses, and nutritionists that came to the room to educate us. We were not going to be released from the hospital until we understood how to read blood sugar levels and inject insulin into Max’s body. When we left the hospital, Joan and I felt like we were bringing home a newborn all over again. We were going to be experiencing something for the first time. Caring for our child was taking on an entirely new meaning. This is Max’s Okee summer, his final year at Camp Takajo. The entire year, we spoke about his goals, aspirations, and his sheer excitement to finish his camping career with the lifelong friends he has created here at camp. Those plans were in jeopardy; and, ironically, had I not owned the camp, I wouldn’t have had the comfort in sending my son away to manage this disease on his own, just two weeks after this diagnosis. Max’s first two weeks have been met with many challenges. He has had great difficulty sleeping in the bunk, he is struggling to navigate in the dining hall even when our amazing chef plates his food and gives him his carb count so he is able to inject the proper amount of insulin into his body.
As Max navigates through camp and plays in sporting events, his blood sugar levels plummet, requiring him to take frequent breaks to boost his energy level with drinks and snacks that refuel his body. As a Dad, I feel somewhat helpless. My son is physically hurting, which is creating a great emotional strain on his psyche. I remain strong and positive for two reasons. Because while diabetes is a life-altering disease, it’s not a life threatening one when managed properly. Secondly, I believe the way I react to this situation will directly impact the way Max reacts. If I become emotional and feel beaten by this diagnosis, how could I expect my child to remain positive? Furthermore, someday Max may be a father, and he will be faced with his own struggles as a Dad. In turn, he will have to set the example for his son.
Why is this relevant to you? For one, we are all now intertwined in each other’s lives. I have your son(s) in my care, and I want you to know about my son and what is going on in my life. More importantly, I want you to know that as a parent, I appreciate your struggle to manage the situation and help your child whenever he is having a difficult moment at camp. Of course, our children need us to advocate for them, and I am always here for you if you receive a concerning letter or if he doesn’t sound right during a phone call.
As a parent, I am learning first-hand the importance of allowing our children to stand on their own two feet and develop self-reliance. I would do anything to take away my son’s diabetes, but I can’t. Therefore, I need to teach him to hold his head high, to face this adversity with strength, dignity, and courage and learn how to manage his blood sugar levels so that his body remains healthy. As helpless as I may feel, the best thing I can do for my son is to teach him how to stand on his own two feet.
If you ever want to picture your child having the perfect day at summer camp, today was that day. Camp Takajo woke up to bright sunshine and cool temperatures. For the first time in weeks, the boys reached to the back of their cubbies to find a sweatshirt that was only needed until mid-morning. Today was picture day so we took the morning to spend time with our bunks, take individual and bunk photos, and shoot short bunk videos, which you will have the opportunity to see when our yearbook video comes out in the fall.
As silly as it may sound, the preparation for shooting the bunk videos is very entertaining. The boys have to come up with an idea that speaks to the uniqueness of their group but that can only last 15 or 20 seconds. They have to agree on one idea and then execute the skit. It’s great to see the interaction between the boys and the fun they have collaborating. The afternoon temperature reached the low 80’s, and every facility in camp was in use.
Our 11-year-old boys in Junior camp played inter-camp basketball games, home and away. Our 13-and-under campers also participated in soccer inter-camp home and away, and our 15-and-under baseball team took the diamond at home, while displaying incredible talent against a neighboring camp.
Hobby Lane was in full swing throughout the day as our boys take great pride in the projects they create. All four sides of our climbing wall were in use, as well as our giant swing. The finishing touches were put on projects in ceramics. These works of art were glazed, put in the kiln and will be on display for our art show that will take place in a few weeks. Woodworking remains incredibly popular, and our boys love the opportunity to work with their hands and build fun projects such as Takajo spinners, boxes, and paddles. There was a great breeze coming across Long Lake, and every sailboat was in use throughout the afternoon. Our ski boats made the rounds as they constantly pulled into our shoreline to pick up campers, who enjoyed water skiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing on our beautiful, eleven-mile long lake.
No matter what your child’s passion is in camp, today was the perfect day to seize the opportunity to experience something they love. It was Saturday night at the movies, and all three groups retired to their respective rec. halls to relax, unwind and watch a movie with their friends. Tomorrow is Lazy Man’s Morning, which means Dunkin’ Donuts will be in the house. All is well at Camp Takajo.
This morning at breakfast, I shared with our campers and staff the long-range forecast. The humidity is on its way out, and bright sunshine along with cooler temperatures will be with us for the foreseeable future. I commended everyone for the way they handled this heat wave. It was not easy sleeping in the bunks, and the high dew points took a little bit of the enthusiasm out of our program. Nevertheless, the Takajo community prevailed, and we look forward to cooler days ahead.
Our intercamp schedule continues. Today, our swim team traveled to New Hampshire to compete in our first swim meet of the summer. Our 12-year-olds competed in hockey, 14 year-olds hosted a lacrosse tournament, 11-year-olds traveled to a local camp to compete in tennis, and we hosted our own 13-and-under tennis tournament to fine-tune our skills before we host our Takajo Tennis Invitational next week.
While we pride ourselves on an excellent sports program, we have had great success partnering with some professional coaches that come to Takajo and provide our boys the opportunity to train and specialize in their favorite sport during the season. For the next seven days, we have Mike Turtle, owner and director of Soccer Specific Training in New Jersey, here to train our boys. Mike competed at a high level himself and is one of the best coaches I have ever encountered. He has the unique ability to make the game of soccer fun and challenging regardless of one’s ability level. Whether your son intends on playing fall travel soccer or just wants to build his confidence in the sport, I would encourage you to write to your son and suggest he takes advantage of this very special opportunity.
Over the past week, we were not only challenged by intense heat, but we also approached a time in the season where campers become so comfortable that they sometimes test boundaries. As parents, we all know the problem of communicating with our child when they become emotional or become set in their ways. I often refer to this experience as the point of struggle. We have had our share of moments during the past week when campers have become defiant, whether it is claiming there is nothing to eat in the dining room or getting upset if they are asked to do a simple chore in the bunk. It is to be expected that our boys can be a challenge to deal with when asked to do things that they do not want to do.
I tell my staff to not engage during that point of struggle but to find a calm moment when they can recollect that experience in hopes of coming up with a better resolution. I watched this at work the other day when a little Warrior camper sat at his dining table with his arms crossed and head down claiming there was nothing to eat for dinner. The counselor patiently said, “If you don’t like the chicken, how about the pasta bar? And, if you don’t like the pasta bar, how about if the chef makes you a grilled cheese sandwich?”
The more the counselor offered suggestions, the more the child tuned him out. At that moment, there was nothing that was going to satisfy that little boy. However, the next day, the counselor approached him outside the dining hall down by the waterfront, and this time he was armed with a pad and a pen. The two sat on the wall and created a list of all the foods this boy likes to eat. Removed from the point of struggle, he was only too happy to engage in this conversation and participate with a list of foods he enjoys. This was a great lesson for this young boy and for the counselor.
When you are living in a community in close proximity with others, there are always going to be moments when one becomes frustrated. With a little patience and consideration, there are always ways to solve our issues.