First memory—Playing a game of football in the mud during my first day at camp
My name is Jake Rosen, it’s my 7th summer at camp and I’m finally a Club boy. There seem to be two types of campers that are chosen to do the sermon, the “I loved camp from the second I got off the bus” kid, or “I was homesick my entire first summer” kid.
Well, I was the homesick kid. And to this day, I couldn’t tell you why. But about a week before my second summer at camp began, I started worrying about the little things that went wrong during the previous summer.
I envisioned tearing up if I couldn’t fall asleep during the camping trip or even being placed in a bunk with a boy who was not very nice to me. Meanwhile, he didn’t even come back.
In hindsight, I can laugh at how ridiculous these examples seem, but at the time they felt pretty serious. During the first day of activities, I ran off the soccer field with my counselor, went back to my bunk, and convinced him I needed to find something from my trunk. He took the bag down from the rafters and I proceeded to throw my clothes in—I was packing up and going home. I don’t know how that would’ve worked, but 10 year old me was going back to Maryland.
That day was followed by daily talks with Senior Staff, my counselors, and even Marbles, for those of you who still remember him. They all told me that camp was a special place and to let my feelings play out. But my mind was set—I was leaving camp and nobody was going to change that. That’s exactly where I went wrong. Once upon a time, I didn’t want anything to do with this place, and to me, that’s what makes each day here so special.
Among the many lessons camp has taught me, I learned that your mindset controls more than you could ever imagine. We often forget that we control our mindset, which is why nowadays I like to refer to it as setting the mind.
A week into camp during my second summer, I finally had that long awaited phone call with my parents. I thought that they would be understanding and compassionate but they were exactly the opposite. They stood firm, and they told me I wasn’t going anywhere, while also echoing the words of Mitch, Bob, my counselors, and Marbles. And as soon as I got off the phone that day, I set my mind. I told myself that I was going to have a great Middie summer and stay at Camp Towanda for the long haul.
Now, the rest is history, and I get the opportunity to urge everyone to positively set their mind during every moment in camp. Because in two months, we’ll all be wishing we were waking up to reveille and eating Beefaroni at lunch.
My last point of emphasis is to control the controllables, meaning that we should only worry about what we can control and look at everything we can’t control as a challenge rather than a threat.
For example, when you’re on your next canoe trip, look at it as a challenge to see how close you can get with your group, rather than as a threat to you having fun at camp.
Finally, remember that we can’t control the number of days we have here, but we can always control what we make of them. Make the best of your days here!
Shabbat Shalom and thank you.