Written by: Rachel 'Cricket' Pischke
I have done a lot of profound, life-changing, and exuberant things in my life. There are many things that I am proud of: special events that brought immense joy and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. However, nothing has tugged at my heart strings, given me hope or brought more comfort and joy to my life than Camp Tekakwitha has. Camp has carried my most treasured moments for more than a decade of my life.
I spent long summers on Loon Lake that felt far too short. We spent nights stargazing with Treble on the waterfront. Days preparing for campers by building an observatory. Long nights by the fire making nickel s’mores and telling recycled scary stories. Afternoons that were so hot we swam all day.
I watched kids struggle with archery on Monday and saw them hit the target by Friday. I lingered over the smell of the cabin the first night of the summer after a long winter of vacancy. I perfected my pancake-making skills during our Polka Pancake tradition where sprinkles in your pancakes were a novelty. I have memories of berry picking with my very best friends at 6 AM, saving baby bunnies from a wild storm, kayaking until our arms hurt, ducking through the spider tunnel, and eating dinner in the pouring rain.
Camp Tekakwitha isn’t just a physical place that I left back in 2016, it’s forever with me. I carry it wherever I go. The memories and lessons I learned there have guided me. As I’ve found myself now in a role with youth programs, I continue to encounter many children every week who have also fallen in love with Camp Tekakwitha, and I get the honor of sharing such a special commonality.
I have brought songs from Camp Tek meals with me all the way to South America. I played the same games that I once played with campers, with orphans in Africa - and I attempted the same crafts I once made at camp, in South America. As I look forward to my future, Camp Tekakwitha and what I learned in its presence will guide my choices for the rest of my life.
I hope that as you continue to experience the powerful joy and peace that dwells within the midst of Camp for the coming summers, that you always remember to take a little teka-with-ya and leave a little of yourself behind.