The Giving Tree

As this summer comes to an end I am once again thinking about my time as a teenager working at Madison County Children’s Camp (Camp Lookout). It was a place that changed me as a person for the better. I often think about it and hope that one day my children will be able to attend a camp like Camp Lookout.

You see, Camp Lookout has been a refuge for needy children. Every child who comes to camp is there because they needed the love and respect that every child is given every day. They do not come from rich families, they do not come from perfect homes. Often, they are broken and need to be built back up. And the best thing is that the families do not have to spend a dime for their children to be there. Camp Lookout is run entirely on donations, grants, Community Chests, and the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Every child’s stay is paid for by the generosity of the community.

Every time I think about my years as part of the staff there, I can’t help to think of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It was a man stay on our last night of camp. We read it to the campers and it has basically become symbolic of what the staff does and why we do it for the campers.

For those of you who don’t know, the story is about a tree, and a boy (who grows up throughout the story). The tree gives to the boy everything she has, and the boy takes everything she has. I have realized as I read this story to my children that as you hear this story at different points in your life it means something totally different. As a child you understand it as a parent loving their child and giving them everything they need and want. As a teenager reading this to the children at a camp, I understood it to be about an adult figure giving children the love that they need. As a parent I understand it as a love so strong you will give your children everything they want and want nothing in return. Why? Because you love the boy, very much.

So as I think about my own children and being that tree, I straighten myself up as much as I can and tell my children to sit down and rest. And this tree is indeed very happy.

And the tree was happy.

And the tree was happy.

For those of you who want to make a donation to Madison county children’s camp so that some of the county’s most vulnerable children can attend please go to Camp Lookout Donations for directions on how to make donations.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

We are coming up on the end of the school year and I am sure some of you have already gotten there and are already enjoying the summer with your kids. Yet others may be counting down the days until they go back to school. But anyway, I digress.

When I was a counselor at Camp Lookout as a teenager we had a big campfire on Thursday nights before the campers went home on Friday. We would all sit around the campfire, sing some songs, thank people who made the weeks special for us and often read a story. For the 12 year olds this would be their last time coming to camp as a camper and it was especially emotional for many of them (and often us). The story we often would read would be “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.

I often think back to this book as it talks about growing up, moving on, and striking out on your own. It was so profound to those campers as they left a place of sanctuary and stability (which was often the only one they had in their lives) and set out on their own with out us.

Now that I am a parent, my wife and I have thought ahead to a time when our own little Supers move out on their own and have to make decisions on their own without us. So, we purchased these books to give to our “A” and “N” when they graduate from high school. Yes, we already purchased them twelve years before they graduate. We did this so that at the end of each school year we can give the book to their teachers and have them sign and write something inspirational to them. Then when they graduate they will have a gift twelve years in the making. They will see how much people cared for them and that they want them to succeed.

Hopefully, they will look at these book and think that we were the best parents ever for being so thoughtful and caring so much. Hopefully, they will look back at these books and remember all the people who cared for them and hope that they do not get stuck in “the waiting place”.

Because, Will they succeed? “Yes!” They “will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).” I sure hope yours will too.

I would love to hear from you and what great ideas you have for when your children move on and up, so please leave a comment.