Home: From the Camp Directors
| “I was rather young
to be so far north, but there is a period near the beginning of every
man’s life when he has little to cling to except his unmanageable
dream, little to support him except his good health, and no where to
go but all over the place.” E.B. White
The American architect Louis Kahn was once asked by a student, "Why architecture?" He responded, "I think that if you were to define it, you would destroy it." And so it seems with camp. To define it presumes a control over elements of weather, individual talents, and just plain human nature. Winds stirring in the pines, fires crackling at cookouts, canoes slipping though the water, young voices calling out to new found friends...such moments are best described by a feeling we call the "Winona experience." Sharing this experience creates the thread that holds campers and counselors together.
We stress values and traditions, not fads and trends.
Throughout the seven weeks at Winona, a boy learns new skills, makes lasting friendships, and grows physically stronger. Accomplishments, even if small or unnoticed at the time, add up daily. But what motivates him, especially after his camping session is over, is a stronger sense of accountability for his actions. Winona boys will grow more confident of their own place in society as well as more aware of the world at large.
Everyone participates. This is not a place for spectators. Too much these days is passive entertainment, catering to short attention spans. We no longer really listen or look. City traffic erases all sound of the wind, let alone the scratching of a red squirrel. Whirring computers impatiently prompt input and not reflection. Away from the din of ringing phones, beepers, and signaling wristwatches, we relish the cry of the loon, the lingering sound of an old bell, and schedules that are honestly fulfilling rather than obsessively filled full.
At Winona, tv sets don't vie with sunsets.
Winona is a group of people exploring the very restlessness of human nature. Campers are not pressed by time in any abstract sense. Instead they can rediscover natural rhythms from which the very metaphor of time grew...paddling a canoe, walking a trail, singing a song, watching the stars.
We safeguard a vital legacy of spontaneity and discovery. Ideals are fashioned, free from both the narrowness of bureaucracy and the expediency of politics. We provide direction - provoking, not imposing form on a young person's awakening sense of self.
The challenge facing Winona Camps remains to preserve a sense of earned accomplishment and perseverance, over instant gratification; to encourage let-me-experiment attitudes, over show-me boredom; and to replace the fragmentation that characterizes many activities of young people with a renewed sense of patience and concentration. The Winona experience is a whole experience, divided into activities, to be sure, from pitching tents to pitching baseballs - but held together by our constant aim to nurture responsibility and self-esteem.
We are creatures of imagination. In this age of sensory overload and impersonal information, we must make room for the far-flung tales of fresh experiences - fantastic, halting, mesmeric as they might be - such as those told by boys, around a Winona campfire.
Alan B. Ordway
Directors, Winona Camps for Boys