Learning to explore differences

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This past week at CLC we had a nice reminder of summer camp times in the middle of winter. One of the big joys of being at Crystal Lake Camps in the summer time is the wide variety of people that attend. There are campers and staff from countries all over the world, from Russia and Mexico to Botswana and France, as well as from all over the United States. So the group of people that gather together at CLC in the summer are invariably diverse, different from one another in where their from, what they’re used to experiencing as part of they’re daily life, the cultural standards they regard as normal, even what stars their used to seeing in the sky at night. A camper from Russia teaches her cabin the Russian word for love, and a staff member from the West tells what it’s like to live without humidity. One family camp I watched two boys from a small American town where the only acceptable sport is football watch fascinated while a Mexican staff member dribbled a soccer ball, eventually asking to join in. Who knows what they took from that encounter? Maybe nothing very big, just some fun in the afternoon sun. But who knows what larger lesson they may have gleaned from the moment? In my own experience, momentary exposures to differences become cumulative. And it’s wonderful, the expansion of your own personal universe that can occur, as you learn to explore differences and to find them interesting rather than threatening.

This past week, we had a family staying with us in the Lodge who were originally from Sweden, now relocated to Philadelphia. They had with them also some friends originally from Germany, and in between the two families there were four children under the age of 8, one barely toddling. In addition to the visiting children, there were the two big dogs and one very small dog who are permanent residents at CLC. Between the children of various sizes, and dogs of various sizes, there was a lot of energy bouncing and bounding around the office, and in amongst all the energy, moments of discovery. I learned that the Swedish word for dog was “hund,” that my Chihuahua was “very like a cat, as she is so small,” and that cross-country skiing is very easy as long as you stay up! It was a taste of the wonderful energy and discoveries of the summer time, despite all the snow on the ground!

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