They come as one, but CGL campers always stand as many.
This is an interpretation of a Maya Angelou quote, “I come as one … but I stand as ten thousand.” It means no matter who you are, no matter where you go, you’re never really alone. You have behind you generations of relatives and ancestors and all the people who are a part of your community rub off on you in many ways.
No matter who you are, you inevitably come to camp alone.
Lots of children came here this summer for the first time. Or maybe it was a few summers ago. They come as little boys and girls. They come alone, left to discover the magic and passion and celebration of a CGL summer. They come with wide eyes. They come with fears. They come with hopes for an awesome summer. They come with stuffed animals and comforters and pictures to hang on the wall.
No matter what they carry, they come alone.
And in the time we spend here, we forge relationships and friendships and bonds that run deeper than most. Camp friends are the best friends. They see us when we’re at our best and at our worst. They see us when we’re happy and when we’re sad. They smell your farts and have seen your scars, and know your favorite cereal in the dining hall. Despite all that, they are our best friends.
Over the course of the summer, we see many examples of people supporting their best friends. There are always hand-painted signs celebrating birthdays. Cheers erupt from the crowd any time a camper or counselor gets recognized. There are constantly cheers and words of encouragement spilling out of the bleachers on BB1.
But once a summer, when the Triathlon and Biathlon are held, you see friends literally take their people by the hand and pull them across the finish line of a grueling race. Lower campers participate in the Biathlon, while older campers qualify and compete in a swim-bike-run Triathlon throughout camp.
Not everybody can qualify. Not everybody can finish. So it’s a serious challenge for old and young. But the best part is everyone not participating in the race comes out to line the roads and the fence around the pool to cheer on their friends.
Each camper can have someone run with them to finish the race, so we saw siblings again supporting each other and running side by side. There were cabins jogging with their friends. Brothers kept pace with sisters, and sisters pushed their little brothers. Counselors ran with their campers. And friends ran and shouted and cheered on their friends simply to finish.
Each camper that finished the race ran through a yellow tape. They raised their arms in celebration. They did something special. They were so proud of themselves.
And then they get swarmed by their friends.
They all did it alone.
At one time, they all came here alone.
But at Camp Green Lane, nobody ever stands alone for very long. Today was a powerful reminder of that.