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#21704 Sam Dils Chapel Talk

Hello Camp Dudley family! My name is Sam Dils, camper #21704 and this would have been my third summer as a leader at Dudley. Like all of you listening, losing Camp for the summer was incredibly hard for me to wrap my head around, and I’m sure as the summer goes on, I’ll continue to miss it more and more.

I thought to try to make it a little better, that I’d describe some of the great lessons that Camp has taught me. While I truly believe that there’s no better place than Westport, NY in the summer to develop personal and leadership skills, I hope that you can take some of these lessons and turn them into personal challenges for yourselves. I have three challenges to you all for this summer: 

Challenge #1: Learn something new this summer.

I remember that during my Plebe summer at Dudley, I became absolutely hooked on archery. I had never shot a bow and arrow before coming to Camp, but one day I decided to head down to the Glen during choice time. My skills at first were nothing special. I could barely even hit the target. But thanks to my competitive nature and some handy tips from Fred Kapper, after a handful of choice times I was hitting the target consistently, even landing a few bullseyes. I can confidently say that I had learned a new skill.

Think of what you can do at home or wherever you are. Maybe you have an old guitar lying around; pick it up and try to learn some new chords. I recently dug out an old Rubik’s cube and relearned how to solve it. YouTube is an amazing resource; it can really teach you almost anything. Try out that new instrument, new sport or activity if you can. Set a couple of goals and write them down like we do at Camp; even if you struggle at first or ultimately come up short, you will have learned something.

Challenge #2: Reach out to someone that you haven’t seen in a while.

Something else that makes Dudley amazing is how strong the relationships are that we make in such a short time period. I’ve been coming to Dudley for a decade, but by the end of each and every summer, I have made genuine new bonds. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of seeing these people all the time; we’re spread out around the country and world and nothing can replace the intimacy that Camp provides. But there are still ways to stay connected.

Maybe it’s a Camp friend who you would’ve reconnected with this summer, maybe an old friend from school that’s moved away, or maybe it’s a relative that you don’t talk to as much as you used to–each of us has people in our lives that would love a message or to hear the sounds of our voices, and it only takes a minute to make a call or a text. Especially now, I can say that seeing or connecting with any new people truly brightens my day; don’t be afraid to be the one who reaches out.

Challenge #3: Be kind to those around you and help them out. 

At camp we live in cabins with lots of people and not a whole lot of personal space. But by taking a little bit of responsibility, keeping ourselves and our areas clean, and treating everyone with respect despite any disagreements, we all are able to happily share those spaces with one another.

Take these principles and apply them to wherever you might be right now. Take ownership of whatever space you’re living in. Maybe you’re a little sick of spending all this time with the same people; maybe you’ve felt that way at Camp. Still try and put the other fellow first and consider the needs or everyone that is close to you.

Just to recap–three challenges: Learn something new, reach out to someone that you haven’t in a while and help out those around you. I know it’ll be more difficult to complete these challenges than it would be if we were at Camp, and nothing right now can replace a full, amazing summer, but here’s the great part of all of this: As difficult as this loss is that we are all experiencing, we are so fortunate to know that losing Camp is not permanent. Someday soon we’ll be able to live out the memories that we’re currently wishing we could add on to. Know that the whole Dudley family is thinking of all of you and will always be there for you. Stay safe and healthy and I’m hoping to see you all soon.

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