When I was a counselor at camp in college, I had a camper named Beans. It wasn't his real name; I don't even remember his real name. But I remember Beans. After his parents dropped him off in my cabin, we went to meet up with our family group and start playing games to learn each other's names. He announced himself as Beans. We all called him Beans and he went through the whole week as Beans.
Beans wasn't a particularly skilled athlete, nor was he particularly good at crafts or skits, and he definitely was not a seasoned swimmer. But he loved Energizers. Energizers are those songs/dances/chants/cheers that we all do before meals. Most are catchy and get stuck in your head, or they have motions that build until you're waddling like a duck with your tongue out singing about some form of precipitation. It's a fantastic time for campers (and counselors) to let their guard down and just be ridiculous together. Beans lived for Energizers. The only Energizer he didn't like was the last one, but only because it meant they were over.
At checkout on Friday, I said goodbye to Beans and told his mother how much fun I had with him and how much of a leader he was during Energizers. His mother corrected me by giving me his real name; she seemed certain I was talking about the wrong kid. But Beans was right there, standing beside his mother, so I asked "this is your son, right?" incredulously. I told her that he introduced himself as Beans and again how much energy he had. I learned a week or so later that his mother had called camp to say how much Beans enjoyed camp, and that he couldn't stop singing the Energizers songs. He even taught his parents the songs. Prior to camp, he had never gone by Beans and was petrified of singing or dancing in front of other people.
Camp has a magic all its own in so many ways, but one of my favorites is that campers can be anything they want to be. The athlete isn't forced to just play sports, and the normally-picked-last-in-dodgeball kid can lead the charge in Gold Rush. NaCoMe creates a space for kids to explore who they are and who they can be. I'm looking forward to meeting all of our campers this summer and welcoming whomever they choose to be.
-Ryan "Flash" Moore, Director