Dear Campers…

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to send this final good-bye to 2012.  I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe that it’s time to click on and read this e-mail.  How is it possible that our 51 days and nights together went by so quickly?  How is it possible that you’re now home and we’re sitting on the porch of Wayne Hall staring out at an empty, silent camp?  It’s awful. We’re almost waiting for some of you to come dashing up from Girls’ Campus and across from Boys’ Campus to be first in line at canteen.  Who will drink blue slushies tonight and beg for watermelon sour straws?

I started to write this letter on the fourth day of Color War – the day of the “Over/Under” Relay and the Bucket Brigade. I was sitting in Wayne Hall and the cheers of the white and blue teams running by each other with that playground ball were deafening.  I looked out the window and watched you all – painted and dressed from head to toe in blue and white.  It was just one of the many awesome moments of the summer and it inspired me to start writing.  I wanted to “capture” the sounds, the smells, the feelings, the thrill of Color War and the pleasure of this Tyler Hill summer while it was still going on.  I wanted it fresh in my head. This has truly been an amazing season.

On Opening Day as all eleven buses rolled through the gate, we just knew it was going to be the perfect summer.  You walked onto campus sporting crisp white and blue t-shirts and freshly cut hair, and we smiled as we thought about what you’d look like when we put you BACK on the buses this morning.  As predicted, your t-shirts are now spotted with ketchup, Chipwich drips, Color War paint and baseball dirt, and the stains practically tell their own tales of the summer of 2012.

The THC Stadium Opening Night celebration was beyond anything we’d ever done here.  With fireworks and planes overhead, it felt like we were at Opening Day at Citifield. That was just the beginning of the 2012 magic…

We poured cereal from new bins, drank fresh orange juice at breakfast, ate string beans from the salad bar and had LOTS of fruit for dessert.  We had “One Meatball and No Spaghetti” thanks to Nancy Tucker and the new song she taught us.  How much FUN did we have with her??!!

Brad Henderson returned for the best-ever counselor hypnotist show and Lancelot and his hip hop crew taught us how to cat-daddy and “finger pop”.  I had the privilege of watching the Teen and CIT boys follow along to Lancelot and his crew and I had tears falling down my cheeks in a mix of laughter and pride – our 14, 15 and 16 year-olds were amazing students and I knew they made an impression on our three-day guests.  I was so proud of this group of boys that we have watched grow up here.

We got hit by “the virus” and Purell and Clorox wipes became part of our daily lingo. The porch of the health center was the most popular place in camp and little green buckets were the most coveted items on Cochecton Turnpike!  We chugged mini cups of lemon juice because Andy promised us that it would help keep us healthy.  I’m sure more than half of you reading this are nodding your head with those very clear memories.

Our Laz Bowl football victory was as exciting as ever and our boys celebrated with the traditional jump in the lake – with the entire camp running behind them and cheering them on.  It was one of those “camp moments” that no one can understand unless they were here.

CIT’s ROCKED our THC Olympics with Red Valentine’s Day, Green St. Patrick’s Day, Yellow New Year’s Eve and Orange Halloween.  And our Visiting Day water fight was the greatest ever with Andy’s new fire truck!  Everyone sported fake moustaches, zipper bracelets and every style ever made of Flow Society shorts.  Chipwiches were in high demand and I’m laughing as I think back to the sophomore “Chipwich Revolution!”

We sang Tyler Hill is People at STARFISH services along with my guitar, and I loved sharing with you my “Wendy stories.”  I hope that you listened and didn’t waste a minute here with “rocks in your backpacks”.  If I did it right, then “thank you” was the first thing you said to your parents when you got off the bus.

I imagine that you’re telling your family about Deanna and Mike’s wedding and the horse-drawn carriage at THC!  Robin’s return broke it all up and suddenly…it was COLOR WAR breakout for the Blue Board Games vs. White Apps!!  Five days of non-stop fun, competition and hatchet-hunting culminated in the awesomely decorated Tyler Dome for Sing Night.  It was there that the White Apps’ ultimate victory was announced!

And although the Tyler Dome erupted with excitement from the White Team, it didn’t really matter. What mattered were the friends whose hands you held as you listened for the scores.  What mattered were the teary-eyed embraces that followed the announcement of the winner, and the emotional wishes of congratulations from friends on one team to friends on the other.  What mattered was the heartache we all felt knowing the end of the summer was near.  What mattered were the friends that made you laugh that night when you were lying in bed waiting to fall asleep.

It is an honor watching you all grow up, and an honor to be a part of what matters most to you.  It is a privilege to get to hug you when you’re having a tough camp moment or when you’ve accomplished something incredible here.  I feel blessed that your parents shared you with us for the past seven weeks – and quite frankly, that they share you with us every summer.  I’m going to be heartbroken by the time you’re reading this, though I understand that camp can’t last forever.

I’m sure you’re feeling mixed between “home and happy” and lonely for your camp friends and our summer family – not an easy balance for your parents to figure out.  Share with them your stories from the summer and tell them about the fun times we had, the new things you tried and the lifelong friendships you made.  Sing them your Sing songs and your alma maters from Color War. Show your parents how you’ve grown and changed here, and let them be proud of all that you’ve experienced.  And you should know that that it’s okay to cry about how much you miss your counselors, your friends and this place.

We miss you already and we wish you all the best for a fantastic year – please stay in touch.  And start your countdowns today for next summer.  Now we’re going to walk up alone to the canteen to have some churros, Whoppers and Sour Patch Kids.  It won’t be the same without you.  Only 45 more Fridays….

Andy & Wendy, Michael, Bette, Nick

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