With the arrival of the boys, Run Home Camp 2019 has officially started. We say it every year, but it really seems like we’ve been at camp for more than one day. The way everything becomes familiar so quickly over a long Monday always astounds me.
It’s interesting to observe the wide variety of emotions present as the campers arrive on day one. Some return ecstatic to be back, while others are more hesitant, unsure of what they’ve gotten into. It’s not long before everyone finds a friend from last year or school or makes a new friend as they play cornhole or a board game while we wait for all of the campers to show up. Then it’s off to the field where the rest of the staff is waiting to welcome the boys to camp with signs and lots of cheering.
Our theme this year is Let’s Go, and the boys sure came ready to do just that. On the ride over to camp, the van full of veteran campers discussed their favorite memories from past years and what they’re looking forward to this week. The day was filled with baseball, of course, from catching fly balls in the outfield to hitting in the batting cage. Even though it was a hot and sunny day, the boys played hard, showing how their skills have improved since last year or even just from morning to the afternoon. The campers were still going all the way through dinner and beyond, playing camp games and card games into the evening.
In huddles this week, we’re talking about ways we can be an example to people around us. Each day focuses on one area that the boys can be a good example to their friends, classmates, teammates, and anyone else they come in contact with. Today we talked about how we act, discussing kindness and teamwork.
Even after just one day, I think the boys understand what being a good example means. Over and over I heard returning campers reassuring the rookies of how much fun they’re going to have this week. I feel like they are quickly realizing that if they do the baseball drill correctly or sing camp songs loudly or encourage one another, other boys will follow their example. The more campers that step up and are kind and work together, the better camp will be.
As much as the campers are examples for each other, the people the boys are really looking to are the coaches. I love the way that our coaches show the campers how to act by simply doing the right thing themselves. The staff isn’t just observing what’s happening, but actively participating, whether that’s a baseball drill or waiting in line for a meal or wearing sunscreen. In our day to day lives, it’s easy to forget that people are looking to us as examples of the right thing to do. It becomes so much clearer during camp. At our staff meeting tonight, one new coach commented on how much his rookie camper’s baseball skills have improved just by watching the coaches, especially the younger ones. When guys just out of high school or college take a week out of their summer to pour into nine- to twelve-year-old boys, those kids almost don’t know how to react. Many of our campers lack this kind of role model in their day to day life – someone young enough that they can relate to but old enough that they can look up to. When the boys get attention and encouragement from people like this, it’s amazing how quickly they can improve in both baseball and their attitudes in general. I’m so glad that we have the privilege of being examples for the boys of Run Home Camp, and I hope that they can take what they learn here and share it with others by how they act in the future.