Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Wright Way

Mary Ellen dropped me off at Camp T on our way back from Chicago. This was the day of my dad's retirement party. He has served as Tecumseh's Executive Director for the past 40 years and we were going to celebrate.

After seeing my family every single day all summer, a week apart felt like way too long. I love that Katie and I got to hang out so much, especially during meals when my campers would attack baby Lincoln. And that Lincster was stoked to be back at camp as well.

Before his nap we took Linc all over camp and he got pictures in some of his favorite spots--by the mini-farm, in the tepee...

on the stage of closing campfire...

on the Pioneer cabin and with his friend Irving.

It was quickly time for all the festivities to begin. We spent over two hours in the front of the LV lodges just greeting and mingling with all of the guests. I was so excited to have little Katie and so many other campers show up that I hadn't expected. We had the Bien family, the Friend family, Floyd and Mark Cramer, Squirt and Paula, Aunts and Uncles from both sides of my family, friends from church and people that had been campers of my parents, ladies from Quilt Camp and all of the current camp staff, counselors from every decade since the 70's and camp kids running all over the place. There were so many people, all thrilled to be back at camp.

The program began with Bo the Hobo, JR and John Sollo--they gave some background about Dave, his red beret and their history with them. So many different people got to share and Chris put together a video with interviews done by our family and a few people from the camp staff. All of this to recognize and honor Dave for all of the contributions he has given to Tecumseh in his years here. It was awesome.

Paula was one of the songwriters of Tecumseh and she and Vince led everyone in that traditional song and Welcome to the Family. Those songs are definitely the themes of our summers, and our lives in this place.

Lindsey, the director of the Board, was the one to present my parents with several gifts. They gave them a rocking chair just like the ones all over Lake Village so they'll continue having porch time in Michigan.

They were presented with this painting an artist created of them in several places in camp. A family portrait will also be hung in Heritage Hall (aka the Party Room) side by the side the ones of past directors. Katie and I were thrilled they choose the one  that features the rainbow skirts our group of friends all wore for check-in one summer.

Now you may have heard of the RICHARD G. MARSH Lake, the KETTLEHUT Chapel, the DOROTHY MCALLISTER Heritage Hall, or the SHIRK and BRADSHAW pool. Seeing as how dad was retiring after 40 years, it was a huge decision as to what part of camp should be named after him. They are going to build an archway on the road through the Oregon Territory that all of camp will walk under as they make their way to closing campfire each week. It will be called The WRIGHT Way. (This is a photoshop rendering of what it will look like.)

The plaque on The Wright Way will read,

"Hundreds of campers and staff walk this footpath each week. Named to honor Dave and Beth Wright, it has come to symbolize their countless contributions to Camp Tecumseh. Dave retired in 2012 as Executive Director after 40 years of dedicated service. Beth organized and led Quilt Camps year-round and they both have a shared history with the Outdoor Education, Day Camp and Adventure Trip programs.

Our hope is that generations of campers and staff will continue to walk the paths of Camp Tecumseh and choose "The Wright Way" because of Dave and Beth's examples of walking out their faith, serving others and being "third."

Everyone ate dinner together but Mom and Dad spent the rest of the night talking with the hundreds of people that came to the event. I loved getting to see the Bien sisters and Shannon, the Langs and Arielle, Emily and Eric, Katherine and Chris and more counselor friends.

It will be strange to not have my parents living at camp anymore, it's the only house I've ever lived in. But I'm excited for this next adventure that will have me taking a lot more trips up to Michigan. I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up at camp and have learned so much from both of my parents--easily two of the very best people I know.