Carmen Maciariello, College Chalktalk (http://collegechalktalk.com/2014/09/07/gws-carm-maciariello-recess-for-the-soul/)
Vacation is defined as a period of suspension of work, study or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.
My vacation this August did not include sipping adult beverages sitting poolside with a beautiful woman (that was only one day), nor relaxing in a private villa in St. Lucia, but rather traveling 512 miles to Gilmanton Iron Works, NH to a camp with 170 special needs men and women, where as a counselor you are paired up with one camper for the week.
I gave everything I had to make a special someone’s week at camp the best it could possibly be. I was blessed with the opportunity to be a counselor for one incredible man at Camp Fatima. It was the camps 60thanniversary and it was such an honor to share this milestone with so many great people. My camper was a 30 year-old Down syndrome man from Massachusetts.
My camper was one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. He would ask to do things like go for a bike ride, do early morning yoga, ride in a speed- boat and after he would always say, “Do you mind?”
That was one thing I never minded, being able to bring happiness to another by just being in the precious present with them, enjoying their company and putting a smile on their face which in turn put one on mine.
This is a camp for the campers, as the signs read on the dirt road driving in. We did everything, from making gifts for numerous family members at the arts and craft station, to shooting targets with a pellet gun at the rifle range. We even acted a bit as extras for the play The Sound of Music and we undoubtedly worked on our 3- point shot on the black top. Last but not least we did sunrise yoga every morning with amazing teachers.
I was so proud of this man who I met on a random Sunday in August at this camp, in a town I had never heard of until now. We made progress in many areas. Our tree pose went from a timbering tree on Monday to a strong California Redwood by Friday and our condiment selection multiplied, which initially included ketchup on everything, to dabbling with ranch on chicken and maple syrup on his waffles and pancakes. We worked on our singing at every meal in the dining hall; he improved. I can’t say I can sing at all… at least that’s what I’m told.
Some worry about money, others worry about their career, most lose sight of what is truly important in this life.
There is a quote I like by Dennis Waitley which states “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” To Mr. Waitley I say, put Camp Fatima into your GPS and you will be traveling not only to happiness but to a place where complete selflessness exists, where every minute you will have the time of your life giving back to those who will cherish your kindness for an eternity.
Danny Melanson defined the word happiness at camp this summer. He traveled to it, wore it on his sleeve every day, and lives every minute of his life with love, grace and gratitude. He is a perfect example of what camp is all about. During camp and after you depart, your soul is smiling because it wasn’t about you, or money, or something materialistic. It was about another’s happiness, a greater good.
There was no place that I would have rather been for my vacation. Exceptional citizens week at Camp Fatima puts it all in perspective — it was recess for my soul. Thank you to all who made it happen, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to impact another’s happiness. But more importantly for the relationship I have now with one special person. Thank you Danny Melanson, you epitomize the word happiness and put what truly is important into perspective for so many!
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston Churchill