This past Thursday night I had a new camp experience: I lead my first cabin vesper, (shout out to Yale cabin!). Walking down to the cabin, the sky was fading to a light pink, meanwhile my nerves were skyrocketing. Having never lead one before I was worried about a lot of things: not having a good enough topic, the campers not wanting to participate, stumbling over my words…the apprehensions were endless. Finally I arrived at the cabin, tried my best to put my worries from my five minute walk behind me, and lightly knocked on the door.
The JL opened the door, smiled brightly, and invited me inside, while also instructing the boys to circle up. I anxiously muttered that this was my first time leading one and the whole cabin reassured me that it was fine, that they were excited, and that I was going to be great. I felt a wave of relief and settled in to their circle on my own Crazy Creek chair.
All it took was that encouragement from the kids I was presenting to and I immediately felt comfortable and finally excited to share my thoughts with them. They were equally as eager to share with me, and the vesper moved along, while everybody to a turn talking, laughing, and encouraging one another. When it came time for the ending pray, one of the campers enthusiastically asked to lead it, and then they all thanked me for joining them. I was touched by their kindness and walked back across main campus with a bright, satisfied smile on my face.
As I walked I thought about what a fantastic representative of the Dudley motto: The Other Fellow First, my experience that night had been. Knowing that I was nervous, the boys of Yale cabin put my needs before their own and made sure I was comfortable, that they all contributed, and that I left feeling confident about what I had presented.
As the week went on I noticed the daily acts of this motto all around me more and more. In particular, at Swim Point, kids would share tubes with one another, teach their buddy how to sneak up on a fish, or even give pointers to and loudly cheer on those attempting to pass their swim tests. Every time I witnessed a moment of this motto use I thought back to my cabin vesper fondly.
I then decided to ask some campers what the motto meant to them personally, and as expected, I received a plethora of answers. One camper mentioned that the camp motto meant, “making sure his buddy was having equal or more fun than he was,” another said it meant, “encouraging their friends to try new things, because they knew they would succeed at the tasks they were faced with.” Another comment that stuck out to me was one kid saying it meant, “making sure those having a bad day had somebody to talk to that could make them have a good day, because it is camp after all!”
I agreed and once again thought back to my own personal experience. Those kids in the cabin knew I was nervous, and made sure I was not before I began talking to them that night. I could not have asked for a better and more positive first cabin vesper, and I have those kids to thank. With that in mind, I think no matter where we travel in life and no matter what we are doing, we should always take the meanings of the Camp Dudley motto with us. As I sign off for the summer, and head to a job opportunity in San Diego, CA, I know I will be taking the motto with me, and I hope you all will too. Thanks for being a great audience; it has been another phenomenal summer at the D-U-D!
Written by #22835 Alexa Mitchell
Best of luck on your new job, Alexa! We’re going to miss you!