While our girls were at soccer practice on a field nearby, my buddy and I took on some young kids in a game of Knockout on the basketball court.
As we played, I learned his life was in an uproar. Thanks to the still-struggling economy, his meat business was about to go under. His biggest client cancelled their contract in order to buy from large distributor who was offering an inferior product, but at a rock-bottom price; and his regular customers were falling further and further behind in paying their invoices because fewer people were eating out and their cash-flow was suffering.
Luckily, he had been working to develop a relationship with a local food dealer who wanted to get into the beef business. He decided to sell his equipment, existing business and building to the food dealer and work directly for them, as an employee, so they could start selling a first-class beef product.
As we talked, I realized he was working hard to remain positive about the whole situation, but deep down he was hurting. His dad had started the business 40 years ago, sold it to him 10 years ago and just in the last year he had started to eek out a small profit. He had invested heavily in equipment and packaging that would allow him to grow and expand just before the economy turned. Now, instead of building a business for himself and his family, he was back to being an employee. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but he was doing a good job of plowing forward.
As I got back in the car to take my family home, I was struck by how closely my friend’s situation resembled what has to go down as one of the weirdest summers in camping history.
Think about it:
The economy is in shambles. Everybody has had to do more with less and many folks have had to shut their doors. As if that wasn’t tough enough, a healthy dose of Swine Flu was added to the mix. So now in addition to smaller enrollment numbers and fewer weeks of camp, some kids were in “isolation”--many with counselors who had the same bug.
But, like my buddy, all of you did a great job of keeping a positive attitude and plowing forward bravely into the future.
I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve read explaining how camps have dealt with Swine Flu outbreaks in funny, positive and, in the end, empowering ways. Instead of letting the flu ruin the week or the sessions, you managed to turn it into a positive experience. I’ve seen funny T-shirts, funny banners, funny programs and in the end, happy, well-adjusted kids, who are prepared to deal with this scary bug in school this fall and on into the future.
So, my hats off to all of you for making this weird and wild summer yet another great experience for campers.
As always, if you have would like to share your experiences with us, we’d love to pass them along to the rest of the camp community. Just drop us a line.
Till next month…
Rodney J. Auth