North Star Camp for Boys

Monday, July 4, 2022

Take Care of Each Other

My heart hurts for our kids. The shooting in Highland Park was an act of senseless violence that no child should have to wrap their head around. I am grateful that the families of our campers and staff were all unharmed by gunfire today. But we were all harmed today.

North Star has a deep connection to Highland Park. Generations of families from the community send and have sent their kids to North Star. Some of our camp parents were at the parade. Some of our camp parents and alumni had to run for their lives today, and to protect the lives of their children today.

This is personal for us. Dan lives there. Beth raised her kids there. Robyn, Glick and I grew up down the road. My high school job was one block from today’s shooting. Our campers and staff come from around the world, but today hit too close to home.

Before reading the Declaration of Independence as our morning grace today, I talked about what the 4th of July at camp represents to me - a celebration not only of our country, but of the ideals of democracy. Camp, like our country, only functions properly when we are listening to one another, when we put the greater good first, and when we take care of one another. Today we took care of one another.

We spoke with all of the boys before lunch today to tell them what had happened. We gathered them by grade levels so that we could address them in an age-appropriate way. We were able to assure them that all of their immediate family members were safe and we promised to inform them if we heard anything directly related to them personally. We let them know that they are safe here at camp, and that we will work everyday to make sure that it stays that way. We passed along the message that their parents know that they are safe at camp, which is a big reason why they are here in the first place.

Our director team checked in with every cabin at bedtime tonight. We checked in with every counseling team to find out which boys (and staff) need some extra support. Boys were given the opportunity to call home, and all who asked have reached out. (If you’re looking for resources on how to talk to kids, see this worksheet or this video).

And in between all of this, we managed to have an action-packed day of fun and festivities. Our Green-White Marathon featured an epic comeback. The Marathon is one of our most anticipated and exciting events of the summer. It is a relay race that includes nearly every event in camp. It starts with a running race and includes fun-bugging, swimming, canoeing, climbing, archery, biking, skipping, tent building, tennis volleying, bed making, basketball shooting, bucket filling, singing, and more, before leading to Boil Water Boil. In this final event, the whole camp gathers around as the two teams compete to build a fire that can boil a tin can full of water over the top first. The Green team fell way behind after their canoe tipped early in the race, but persevered to enter the home stretch in the lead Jonah and Jack’s fire capped off the victory.

We announced our United Nations Day captains after dinner. Come Sunday, the whole camp will be divided into four countries for one special day of competition. This year’s nations, as chosen by the captains, are Bahamas, Bhutan, Swaziland and The Gambia. The excitement will build all week and culminate in a great day come Saturday.

Our evening program was Glenn’s Game, a camper favorite, where there are four areas that campers must get into. Those four areas, however, are heavily guarded by counselors. Campers have to use speed, smarts and other skills to get into a coned area. Once there, they get a mark and then head to another area, hoping to collect all of the stamps before the clock runs out.

And we concluded our programming with a great fireworks display over the athletic fields that we watched all together from the tennis courts.

After an incredible grand finale, I made good on a promise to get back together with the Senior Village campers to provide them with any updates and answer their questions. They asked about the details, the shooter, the motives, and they asked about the best ways that they could support each other and the Highland Park community. And just when I thought they had asked all of their questions, one boy asked, “when will we have all the answers?”

We won’t have all the answers. We can’t have all the answers. My heart aches wishing I could give them the answers, but some moments in life bring about unanswerable questions. What we can do is provide our campers and each other with empathy, support and love. We started the day talking about listening to each other and caring for one another, and we ended the day committed to do just that. We ended the day by promising to use our time at camp to become the best versions of ourselves, because camp provides us with a safe space for children to learn and grow. And while we don’t have all the answers, we can be part of the solution. So I asked the boys to work everyday to make the world a better place, so that future generations of North Star campers can have all the 4th of Julys that every child deserves.

Carry On,