Every day at camp between tent cleanup and morning activities, campers and counselors gather together in Honk Hall on well-worn wooden folding chairs to hear a story. The role of storyteller falls to a different counselor each day and their task is simple: tell about a moment when you faced a dilemma or a tough situation, when you found humor in an unexpected place, when you stepped outside your comfort zone, when you failed or made a mistake. At the end of the story, the password of the day is declared, a simple statement to remind everyone about the lesson. Today, Director Sumner Ford offers this Password:
This winter I had the pleasure of traveling to Seattle to meet with prospective campers, current campers, and alumni. During my trip I reconnected with Woody Hoyt, who was one of my favorite counselors from my days as a camper. Woody was my tent counselor in Tent 11 and also led me and seven others on PIC’s renowned Senior White Mountains trip that same year. As we gathered in our host John Pollard’s kitchen, Woody and I looked through his photos from that trip, old 3×5 prints taken with his disposable camera. Looking at those photos, I quickly connected with my 13-year-old self and went back to a place where I faced one of the biggest challenges of my camper career.
The steep, imposing cliffs of Mt. Webster lived in infamy in the Pine Island community and I wasn’t sure that I had what it took to make it up the mountain. Three days of hiking did little to alleviate my fears. The morning that we set out from Ethan Pond, my fellow campers sensed my concern. Those who were feeling stronger selflessly volunteered to carry some of my group gear. Our goal was communal — to reach the top of Mt. Webster — but each of us would need to succeed as individuals to achieve our goal. Mt. Webster was only attainable if we looked after each other. As we ascended the near-vertical face of the mountain, we boosted one another with words of encouragement. It wasn’t easy, but we made it – together.
Pine Island offers many ways for campers to conquer challenges and achieve their goals. Many campers focus on sailing and paddling and every one of them has a story of strong winds and tired arms. Others spend hours in Honk Hall on a Saturday, memorizing lines and donating all of their day to entertain their friends during the night’s Saturday Night Show. Whatever path you carved for yourself at Pine Island, it was paved with selflessness and a strong sense of community. Now, more than ever, we all follow that path.
The last password every Pine Islander hears before departing for home is “Take Pine Island with You.” In this stressful and uncertain time, I hope your memories of camp will buoy your spirits and serve as a lasting reminder that selflessness and a concern for others are the foundation of every great community. Today, more than any other day, take Pine Island with you.