To the community of the Takodah YMCA,
When I think about the past year, I find myself imagining a whole range of “what if” scenarios. It’s almost hard to believe that we emerged from being totally shutdown to feeling surprisingly normal in the midst of moments that we will surely reflect upon many decades from now. My imagination runs wild with all sorts of questions around what might have happened.
And yet, any negative thoughts are fleeting and fading away.
They have been replaced by remarkably positive memories of campers singing, playing, swimming, exploring, laughing, creating, and forming friendships that will last for the rest of their lives. In fact, the time I spent volunteering in Cabin 21 for two weeks was, in many ways, an opportunity to reconnect with the spirit of our mission and help to share it from field to shore and from North to South.
Thanks to the ongoing input from a team of medical experts including Sherry Guardiano, Helen Heneghan, and Claudia Cleary, we were able to resume camping operations at a time when we knew it would have more impact than it might have had since the pandemic of 1918. We knew that over 1,200 kids were relying on us to do this right and do it right now. In fact, we quickly learned that we needed them as much as they needed us. For there is something incredibly special and healing about Takodah when it is alive with the smiles and sounds of campers interacting with leaders and instructors who are trained to handle just about anything that comes their way.
That leads me to the immense pride I have for what our organization accomplished in 2021. To frame that feeling appropriately, I’d like to share a letter that I sent to the staff on the final day of Session 4. I think it captures not only how I was feeling in that moment but how so many parents, volunteers, staff members, board members, and more feel.
My guess is that you know this feeling too.
August 20, 2021
To the staff of the 105th Summer,
On behalf of the Takodah YMCA Board of Directors, I want to thank each of you for your hard work, tireless dedication, and willingness to overcome every challenge put before us over the past nine weeks. This organization’s ability to deliver on our important mission – at a time when it is clearly needed more than ever – was only possible because of your extraordinary efforts.
What you have accomplished is nothing short of a miracle. You helped get an aging campus, that had sat idle for nearly two years, up and running again. You gave hundreds of children a place to feel the fun and freedom that they had sorely missed due to the restrictions placed upon them by COVID-19. You fought through your own exhaustion and frustration as you chose to do a lot of good each day.
Make no mistake: when the campers and LITs we have served look back on this pandemic, they will remember “A Field in the sun, playing hard, making new friends, ‘til each day is done.” Now, we know this makes it sound like a “French Green” oasis. In many ways, it was far from it. You had unpredictable weather, difficult behavior, supply issues, changing procedures, and a string of new policies that, for lack of a better way of saying it, tested you in ways that no one could have seen coming.
And yet, in the end, here we are. The summer is complete. Not cancelled. Not cut short. Not closed due to any number of possible contingencies. It’s complete. When you pack up your gear, clear the tears, find that final hug, and drive down Camp Lane for the last time this session, please know that the echoes and memories you leave behind made a real and lasting difference.
For you, my friends, are among the very best that Takodah has to offer.
As Oscar Elwell would say at the end of each Annual Report, “next year will be bigger and better.” I have no doubt that sentiment still applies.
We look forward to seeing you again. The countdown to the 106th Summer begins today.
Zoe moe sas agapo!
J. Graeme Noseworthy, CT 17
30th President & Chief Volunteer Officer