An Open Letter to Cairn's S.T.A.N.D. Campers

A Cairn Camper grins during a  S.T.A.N.D. exercise

A Cairn Camper grins during a 

S.T.A.N.D. exercise

For a wonderful week in August, I was privileged to spend time with the Staff and Teen Campers of Glen Mhor Camp, one of the Cairn Family of Camps in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.  It was a glorious week filled with learning, love, and laughter.  How impressed I was with these young people who were so eager to share, to express themselves, and to support one another.  

It was our pilot program of S.T.A.N.D. and I really had no idea what to expect.  Everything was planned and ready to go and it all seemed to flow together rather nicely in my head but I had truly no idea how it would all turn out.

The setting was breathtaking and the camp’s programming was awesome.  Even the weather was perfect (well except for that one incredibly hot day - you know, the day we celebrated Christmas during our morning hour of S.T.A.N.D., complete with hot chocolate, hot Christmas cookies, surrounded and squished in by Christmas decorations, and it had to be over 100 degrees!). Despite the heat, the camp staff was so engaged and eager to help make it a positive experience, and the campers were incredibly receptive to grow and change and make their mark in the world.  

Some of the amazing things I witnessed? -   campers greeting one another, introducing themselves and starting great conversations; folks holding doors open for one another, asking people to join their groups, and helping each other out without being asked; everyone graciously congratulating the winners and appreciating one another’s efforts in competition; folks discussing difficult issues with maturity and depth, and campers and staff brainstorming ways in which they will leave their legacy.  

In fact, one of my favourite stories came on the first full day of camp.  After our session on Social Graces, a cabin of young men (true gentlemen actually) saw the food truck arriving just before the lunch hour.  They asked the senior staff member if they could cut their program time at the climbing wall short so they could help the kitchen staff unload the food truck.  

On the last night of camp, we had a great opportunity through a generous camp alumnus named Donovan “Bocca” Romanyk.  His production company, Where It’s At! TV, came to camp and broadcast a one hour live-streamed show in which campers talked about what they had learned through S.T.A.N.D., how they were going to put their new skills and knowledge to work, and showcased some of their amazing talent.  It is hard to put into words how proud I am of these teens.  They absolutely blew me away.

These campers and staff made my first experience running S.T.A.N.D. exceptional and phenomenally inspiring. In the words of Natalie Merchant, “I want to thank you for the generosity, the love and the honesty that you gave me.  I want to show my gratitude, my love and my respect for you.  I want to thank you”.

I dedicate this first installment of S.T.A.N.D. online to all of them.  

“Thanks for the evenings, friends.”

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