I am sure many of you can relate that being a younger sibling has its challenges. I had a personal rule that when something great was happening for my older brother, I learned to share in his joy and make it our own. I have continued with this by always reminding my children that all Weiner events are meant to be shared. We all celebrate the joyous events as a family in our house. So a few weeks ago when my daughter, Hannah, had her 8th grade graduation ceremony it was a Weiner event that called for celebration. I made sure our seats were perfect, the cameras were charged, the phones had the proper wifi. Now, having the last name Weiner meant we had a long time to be ready. I started to get ready after I heard Silverman and then I was at the edge of my aisle seat after Wasserman. I had my camera zoomed into the stage and I made every other member of my family capture the moment in a different way. J.J. was to take still pictures on his phone and my daughter Andie would take an iphone video so that we could immediately post the news on Facebook. So as Hannah excitedly crossed the stage to receive her handshakes and certificate, the only thing I captured was me on the video, saying “Oh, darn it, I missed it!” Did that just happen, did anyone else get the video for me? Did I miss it? I never stopped to appreciate the moment.
Living in the moment is a tricky thing in the year 2018. There are so many things that take us away from the things we need to focus on. Now at camp we are lucky, we can remove about half of our distractions, but how do we really appreciate Camp Starlight? Last Monday the Junior Girls had an opportunity to learn about appreciating what is here at Camp Starlight. They learned how to listen to the many sounds that exist on our way to Oz. They closed their eyes and heard, birds, some buzzing insects, the crunch of the leaves on the ground and even some wind blowing through the trees. Girls, would you all agree it was easier to hear with our eyes closed? Well, I am asking everyone here not just the Junior Girls to listen closely and remember to appreciate what we have, but remember to also keep your eyes open. Wide open. Look for the beautiful sights too; the lake, the shale lined paths and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a bird, a fish or even a field mouse. Because if you are too busy just walking you might miss something cool. Appreciation is like that, we can miss it.
When you get to be my age, you realize that appreciation can often come when it’s too late. I spent the first half of my life traveling the world. My grandparents lived in Europe and we often took a jaunt to France, or a flight to Spain on our way to visit them. I had seen some of the most amazing wonders of the world, by the time I was 13. Places like the Pyramids of Egypt and the Dorek Temples of Sicily. I swam in the Great Barrier Reef and I climbed to the top of Ayers Rock. But now I wish I could have those same experiences again so this time I could truly appreciate them. I never really appreciated what was in front of me. I was too busy complaining about the heat and the long drive to “another ancient ruin”. Missing chances to appreciate what is in front of you can be little things too, like when your band aid falls off at Outdoor adventure and you wish you had it on your hand as your climbing up the rock wall. Or a bunk mate is trying to ask you to be a swim buddy or sit next to you at dinner and you are too busy trying to be friends with someone else, you could miss those moments too. You could spend your whole summer trying to make one best friend and not appreciate the experience of making 9 best friends in one room. There are people and places to appreciate all around us. So remember to listen deeply with your ears, open your eyes wide and most importantly open your hearts and minds to the people who you will share the summer with.
So how do we slow ourselves down to appreciate CAMP STARLIGHT? We can always get a new band aid, but we cannot always mend the feelings of a friendship we never worked on or miss an opportunity to try a new activity. We are lucky we don’t have cameras or Facebook to distract us here. If you open your ears, you’ll hear the loudest birds in Pennsylvania. If you open your eyes, you’ll see one of the most incredible sunsets in the world. Most importantly, if you open your hearts, you’ll have a community of people who will always love you. I appreciate every day that I get to spend here, I appreciate all my wonderful counselors who I get to work with, I appreciate all the staff that supports me in my daily endeavors and I appreciate the fun loving Juniors who remind me about the unbridled joy of being at camp.