Mark “Z” Zides, Camp Towanda’s Operations Director, who is renowned in the camping industry as the guru of camping, has been an integral part of Towanda for 23 years. Although last summer was his last in a full time, year-round position, the Z-Man is still very much a big part of Towanda. He is involved in helping prepare, organize and maintain a lot of what goes on behind the scenes; from the staff recruiting process, transportation and baggage coordination, laundry, kitchen, tournaments, inventory and then some! Don’t you fret, Z is still involved, will come and go during this coming summer, keeping us all in check and on our toes! Z spoke to the camp last summer during our first Friday evening…..
I am honored to be asked to speak with all of you and share some comments on this first Friday night service at camp. I’ve had the opportunity in my lifetime to be part of the summer camp experience as a worker for almost 50 years…my 49thnow& my 22ndat Towanda.I look out at all of you and see some of myself in front of me at your age. Maybe you are anxious to be away from home, or fearful of the unknown, but don’t worry. Be confident that you will succeed here-Tens of thousands before me have!
My life has passed by quickly-I can remember my going to school, years in college, employment. But, my memories and experiences always bring me back to my camp life. All of you are very fortunate to be at Towanda…that your parents love you so much that they have sacrificed to provide the ultimate camp experience for you to be here. Mitch & Stephanie, Bob & Amy, Matt, Jared, and all the Senior Staff are here for you-Your summer family that will have an effect on you forever.
My camp friendships have lasted longer than any other relationships or friendships in my life. What I’ve learned at camp has made me the person I am today. In camp, we learn to live together. We have life lessons-we problem solve, we share, and we learn to compromise. We develop teamwork-we help others. We contribute to other people’s well-being…We do good deeds for others. Your parents do the same in their way…contributing to support underprivileged/disadvantaged…donating time to organizations…giving money.
We believe strongly about it at Towanda contributing to Morry’s project, Vision Walk, and Scope. You’ll learn more about that later this summer. Congratulations to those of you that have Bat and Bar Mitzvah Projects for the less fortunate! It’s all about the GOLDEN RULE…No matter what your religion or your faith-it’s all the same, “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.”
As the days go by this summer ask yourself, “What can you do to measure your camp experience?” First, set some goals for the summer…Hitting a home run or scoring a winning goal in a game is memorable and exciting, BUT…Making someone feel welcome and better about themselves is rewarding. Go through each day helping a bunkmate or someone you didn’t know before you came here. Learn something new, try new things: new foods, Art, O&A, Drama, or Waterskiing. Take the skills you learned at camp and expand upon it when you go home. Advance your Life Skills-Be kind &caring to others…PRACTICE…PRACTICE…PRACTICE! Before you know it, time passes quickly. I cannot believe how fast my time has passed. I have incredible life experiences. CAMP HAS HELPED ME DEFINE THAT!
In closing, take advantage of this incredible summer opportunity-Experience all of it. Make friends for life, and be the best friend and neighbor you can be. One day, you’ll look back on this experience and you’ll realize just how fortunate you are. REACH FOR THE STARS-HAVE A GREAT SUMMER! BE SAFE and enjoy everything Towanda has to offer…You won’t regret it!!