Wendy’s End of Summer Speech

It’s always hard for me to get up here on this last night of camp to say this good-bye and send you off with final words from the summer until we meet again next June.  But, as you know, I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity for anything.

I’m sure for you it’s so strange to think that tomorrow at this time you will be with your own families in your own homes or favorite restaurants.  I’m sure that some of you aren’t really sure what “home” is anymore, as it’s technically where your family lives, but perhaps you feel more yourself and more at home when you’re here.  I know that I do.

But, the sad reality is that you are all heading back to your families tomorrow.  We have just a few more hours to say our final good-byes, to give one last hug, to tell one last joke and to share one last camp story together.   As the summer mom of Tyler Hill, I have watched you all grow up here –some of you for the past seven weeks and some of you for the past ten years.  You have changed more than you know and I believe wholeheartedly that what you learn here at camp will last you a lifetime.

Just wait until you see your families tomorrow – if you can stay awake long enough to have a full conversation with them – they will be astounded by how mature, how independent, how confident you have become.

Besides the incredible memories that now fill your heads, I hope you can make room for a few more things to remember from me:

First, pay it forward and be kind.  When you get off the school bus, look the bus driver in the eyes and say thank you.   When your mom picks you up at school, drives you to the orthodontist for a quick appointment and then drops you BACK off at school in time for your lacrosse game or cheerleading practice, say thank you.   If your dad accidentally forgets to say thank you to the waiter at the diner or to the guy who pumps your gas, remind him what to say. The words “THANK YOU” never get old and you can never say them enough.

Second, be a legend.  Be the legend that people want to follow because you are doing the right thing. Maybe you step in and stand up for someone who you see being treated poorly.  Maybe you just give a hand to someone that needs help, whether it’s a friend, a teammate or better yet a total stranger.  God it feels good to help other people – I hope you all get to experience that over the next ten months.

Third, remember that the way you behave is noticed by everyone.  I bet the kids from those other camps that we talked about earlier in the summer have no idea that their mean-spirited cheering and negative comments about Tyler Hill made such an impact on us. They’ve long forgotten about their poor behavior – as a matter of fact they probably didn’t think anything about it even while they were acting that way – but we have not forgotten.   Don’t be the kid that other people use as an example of how NOT to act.  Be the role model for other people to notice, follow and look up to.

Fourth, don’t forget that conversations face to face and eye to eye will ALWAYS be more meaningful than those on text, Instagram and Facebook.  You have spent the last 7 weeks with no access to technology – and I bet you all agree that it has been amazing.  Look away from your phones and your computers every so often and enjoy everything going on in your real life.

And last, give yourself a break sometimes.  As I remind you every year on this night, you will NOT ace every test, you may NOT make every team you try out for, you may not be elected class president even though you really wanted it, and you just might not get into the university that’s number one on your list.  And it’s all okay.  Because not everything you do will be perfect – that’s just not reality.  Don’t let every setback send you running to your bedroom and slamming your door – let the setbacks make you stronger.

To end my year of speeches, I want to tell you that I hope you will think of Tyler Hill on Friday nights at around 7:30 when we’d all be gathering together at STARFISH.  Think of camp on Sunday mornings when you would be in the dining hall eating bagels and cream cheese and maybe even lox.  Think of camp on Wednesdays and smile as you picture yourself hanging out together on your bunk porches.  Think of camp when you can’t fall asleep at night and imagine your friends in the bunk telling stories to help you nod off. Think of camp whenever you need a smile or a laugh or a friend.

I will think of you when I need a smile or a laugh, too.   Have an amazing year.


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