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Sunday Talk with JU

Some of you who were around in the summer of 1988 may remember it as the “summer of love” — a theme cooked up by yours truly and my old friend #12082 Patrick Butler. It started as a joke. We thought it would be funny to announce a “love of the day” at breakfast and have everyone at Camp tell that person “I love you” all day long, whenever they saw them. What evolved was anything but a joke. The theme became transformational. For people who were named “love of the day,” it was amazing to be told “I love you” repeatedly, all day, by everyone you saw. I know. I was one of them late that summer and the experience could sometimes leave you speechless. And it went beyond that. In subtle ways, the summer theme brought out the best in our community — encouraging us all to declare our love for one another openly. Even the toughest and unlikeliest of people were willing to say it out loud.

The emergence of the 1988 “summer of love” theme is such an essential Camp story. What started as a joke took on a life of its own and became a meaningful way to build people up, to express who we are, and to strengthen our community. It reminds me of a quotation that was posted on the wall of Edie cabin at Camp Kiniya one summer, which reads “watch carefully, the magic that occurs when you give someone just enough comfort to be themselves.” (h/t #21303 Ellie Whelan) I paraphrased that quotation as part of a talk I gave about Camp a few weeks ago, at the Rotary Club in San Marino, California. Camp, I told them (with the 1988 summer theme firmly in my mind), is about love. And it is an amazing thing to see the magic that occurs when people are part of a community where they know they are loved for who they are.

Today, I begin one of the adventures of a lifetime, serving as Chair of Camp’s Board of Trustees. Camp is working on big plans in the coming years, including for how we will use the Frisbie Farm property, how we will keep Camp’s tuition affordable, and how we will make our camps affirming and inclusive places for a wide range of people. We also face major challenges, including how we will navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, how we will adapt to changes in the climate and environment, and how we will meet the evolving health care needs of our community. I can’t tell you today how all that will work out. But I can promise you that our Board’s work on every issue will be rooted in love — for one another, for all members of the Camp Family, for Camp Dudley and Camp Kiniya and for the larger community we lead and serve. After all, as we said back in ’88, love is what Camp is all about.

Much love, JU #11904

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