After reading one of my recent blogs, my wife reminded me that Stony Brook is more than the serious reflections on life and death that I often fall prey to. She is absolutely right. In fact, as I listen to the whoops and hollers of the camp kids outside and watch them running through the field with their counselors in chase (who look like throw-backs from the days of Huckleberry Finn with their straw hats and cut-off jeans), I have to smile.
Stony Brook is a place of self-discovery and exploration. It’s a place to take a leisurely walk or to witness Nature unfolding before our eyes. It’s a place of color and light, winding trails and breezes on the water. A retreat from routine, a source of comfort or solace, or better yet inspiration. But perhaps more importantly our campers remind us, it’s a place to run, to shout, to sing and occasionally to dance. I hear our Discoverers singing now before they leave for home: “Good bye, friends. Good bye friends. We had fun today, yeh!” There’s a clear sense of camaraderie here, of friendships being made, of trust and security, of stories in the making.
One grand-mother comes to pick up and, unsolicited, says to Marla, our camp director, “You do such a good job here. My grand-children love it. They come home excited every day… They’re safe. They’re well cared for. And they have so much fun. Thank you.”
We should be thanking her. We love to hear the children’s voices, their whispers, their shouts of glory, their teasing, their giggling, their occasional outbursts. They remind us to be about play. To be about time. To be about no boundaries, no judgment, no fears. This is a place where pressures and expectations vanish, where time slows down. Where it’s acceptable to jump in puddles and throw your head back to catch the rain. Whether child or adult.
Daily routine takes a back seat here to pretend Beluga whales and home-made boats that carry record amounts of pennies. Kids run through imaginary air-dryers to get warm. They clamor to get three men into a boat while their counselor barks out commands. Then they all sing: “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.” Yes, life is a dream, of the most precious kind.
The noise is deafening, and I love it. Children are restorative. They remind us how large the world is, how full of surprises, how much we as adults have lost, and how wide open our eyes must be to find it beneath our feet.