|A young Ben and his cow|
Since I left Lindley G. Cook 4-H Camp I've kept in touch with the new Director there, Ben Clawson. I've known Ben for a long time, ever since he was a young counselor reading stories to campers in cabin 7. (long story about Ben being in the wrong place for the right reasons....)
He was a counselor, a volunteer, a drama staff, and even was the assistant director. Eventually I hired him on as the Program Director, and over the years we have worked together to make the camp there a great place to be.
Much of what has happened at his camp is because of all the struggles and work we put into the place. Ben now has a great place, a wonderful wife and little boy, and a cool dog named Woodrow. We have been wanting to get together to catch up in person, but this time of year is difficult for camp directors. And with his new family, we never seem to be able to find the time.
So I sent him out a message asking what he was doing last night. And as luck would have it, and with the stars aligning, we decided to have a skype campfire to catch up.
I built the first fire of the season, set up the call and we talked. And we talked...and we talked The skype call was for over an hour, and then we chatted on the phone for probably another hour, reminiscing about old staff members, sharing ideas for programs and just catching up. And of course I threw in some sagely old director advice from time to time.
I get a kick out of some of the things he is dealing with. Maybe it's karma, or maybe it's just the good old fashion passing of the torch, but he has to deal with many of the things I had to deal with back in the day. And he is handling it well. I feel a sense of pride with where he is taking the camp, and how well the program is going.
But the conversation isnt a one way street. Ben has been a sounding board for many of the issues I deal with here. And he is always quick to support my new camp program (even though he thinks that I am a little crazy for doing it). I appreciate all the help he gives and all the advice he shares.
Camp, no matter what camp you go to, is all about relationships. Even the staff build great friendships. I am still friends with many folks from when I was a counselor back from the days I worked at Hidden Valley 4-H Camp. As a matter of fact, I am going there this weekend to help with a fundraising event. Those friendships that campers and staff make can last a lifetime! That is why I started this camp, and that is why I work hard to make sure all children (and staff) have a place where this can happen.
Ben and I decided that we will do the skype campfire more often. And who knows, we may even meet up in the fall after the dust settles from the summer. Camp friends are friends for life.