Cheers erupted on the field as another Maryland Madness event drew to a close. Teams congratulated one another, and campers scurried to their next event. The swimmers on the pool deck, though, were oblivious to the action. Each one stood quietly, focused on the clear blue water below them. One camper’s nervousness was evident. He shifted his weight back and forth from foot to foot, while fiddling with the string on his swimsuit. "I am not sure I can do this," he murmured. Susan, one of the senior camp counselors, reached over and ruffled his hair. "Just do your best, Carl," she encouraged.
The whistle blew, and the swimmers entered the water. Carl surfaced and looked around; his competitors were already a fourth of the way down the pool. As Carl began his freestyle stroke, Susan leaned over the pool to encourage him. Meanwhile, his teammates gathered at the opposite end of the pool, eagerly awaiting his arrival at the finish line. Carl reached the deep end and slowed to a near stop. Susan, ever present, leaned over and yelled, “You are almost there. You can do this!” Carl began his strokes again, and each time he turned his head to take a breath and saw Susan’s face, his pace increased. Speed up, slow down, take a breath. Speed up, slow down, take a breath. Many times Susan’s face was so close to the pool deck that her cheek scraped the warm concrete. As Carl approached the finish line, his teammates inched closer to the edge of the pool, yelling and encouraging him. Finally, his hand hit the wall, and cheers erupted from the group. Carl surfaced, smiled proudly, and reached for the hands of his teammates as they helped hoist him out of the pool. Despite the fact that the competitors had exited the pool many minutes before, Carl’s teammates congratulated him as if he had won the heat. The upbeat, celebratory conversations continued as the campers entered the locker room.
As the group passed, one of the lifeguards, a former camper herself, smiled and said, “This is what camp is all about.” When asked to explain, she continued, “It’s really not about winning around here. It’s about everyone doing his or her best and then celebrating those accomplishments whether they are on the sports field, in the pool, in the art room, or in the units. It’s everyone coming together to help and support one another,” and with that she sat back, sighed, and smiled.
Choose groups to clone to: