Once a week for about a year now, I have been receiving an e-votional from the pastor of my parent’s church. Admittedly, in the beginning I rarely read them. I brushed them aside or skimmed over the stories just looking for info on how some of the older members of the church were doing. However, in the past few months I have really begun to enjoy them and I look forward to reading her stories. I even share them with a few colleagues in the office on occasion. The stories she tells seem to relate more and more to the happenings here at camp.
As a staff, spirituality is something that can be a struggle for us. Some of us are more comfortable than others to voice our true feelings and share our beliefs. Maybe it’s a New England thing; I’m not totally sure, but whatever it may be, it’s been a challenge for as long as I can remember and is certainly a bit of a void that we would like to fill. Spirituality is an extremely important component of the resident camp and YMCA experience and something that with Pastor Donna’s help has been a bit easier for us to wrap our heads around here.
A little background on the Pastor- she used to write editorials for a fancy fashion magazine in NYC before she found her calling in the ministry. In her most recent e-votional she said she had received a letter from a colleague thanking her for inspiring him and that he referred to it when he needed inspiration. The article she had written those years ago was titled “Dust off those Dreams”. She said she had no idea that she had made an impact on him, and she was just passing along a blessing that someone had given her. She also said that because of his letter she realized she too had many letters to write to those that inspire her.
In her words “May today you take a moment to dust off your dreams and reach deep down inside to discover who God is calling you to be and what God is calling you to do in this world. And, if you have been inspired by the encouraging words of another, may you write them a letter as my friend did for me. May this day you be a blessing with what you say and the things you do”.
So as I sit here reading this letter Ray received, it made me think, what a blessing it is that Matt took a moment to reflect thank Ray for inspiring him. What a blessing it is that Matt had the opportunity to come to camp. It also made me think about all the people I should write a letter to. Kudos to Matt for taking the time.
Below is Matt’s letter-
Hi Mr. Zetye,
If you remember me, my sister and I came to Camp Jewell a few years back. Unfortunately, because of sports we haven’t been able to come back. Recently I have found much success while playing volleyball, being given the opportunity to pay at the Junior Nationals in Minneapolis last year and Dallas this year and I am being recruited by several schools including one of my favorites and both my mothers and your alma mater, Springfield, so I am constantly training so that I can play in college. I recently found my camp yearbook and began looking through it; it brought back so many great memories and i began to think about everything happening in and throughout my life. I wanted to take time to say thank you to you and all of the staff that I had the pleasure of meeting and bring around at camp. I realized that without going to Camp Jewell, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today and I probably wouldn’t have had the same amount of success as I have, more the confidence to so some of the things that I do now. I truly believe that there is something special about the camp. It forces a person to come out of their shell and have fun while being creative allowing everyone to share their talents, creating some of the best memories I have and some of the best experiences that I will never be able to forget. Before camp, I probably would’ve never jokingly danced to music before a game and I would’ve never had the courage to meet some of the most inspirational people I know. I still keep in touch with counselors from years ago joking about things in our lives, talking about sports, and anything else happening, and now I am always having fun joking around, dancing and doing crazy things before games. Coming out of my shell and learning to just be yourself and have fun were some of the greatest lessons I could’ve ever learned from camp bringing out a side of me that without Camp I still today think would be hidden. Also, when you talk about friendships that last you couldn’t have said it any better. I still am in touch like I said with counselors (RJ in particular) and we are always talking about things. He is one of my closest and best friends; he has come almost like an older brother who I can talk to about anything rather than just another counselor. Also, many of the kids that I met while there I still keep in touch with and have even hung out with a few times outside. It’s amazing how close you can get to someone one in just 2 weeks that seem to fly by. Some of the best friends I have are camp alum and we always joke about the fun times we have at camp and all our memories. Lastly, something that will stick with me forever, the 4 colors/words Red, Yellow, Green and Blue: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. I try to live my life following all of these words and always striving to be my best, never going into anything half-hearted. I am truly thankful that I has the opportunity to go to camp and experience everything, and because of Camp Jewell I am the person I am today. I want to say keep up the great work and hopefully many others feel the same way I do about such an amazing place, and one that is very close to my heart.
Thank you for everything,