With the coming of spring we notice many changes in our environment. The irises begin to bloom, the birds begin to chirp, the grass grows greener, and the hot dog vendors begin to yell. But nothing says spring more than Mardi Gras. A day that we are encouraged in our society to enjoy the finer points in life. A day we all love to refer to as Fat Tuesday. So go out and eat that last donut before you give it up, load up on caffeine one last time, take the time to enjoy life to its fullest. What I love most though about today is that often times it turns into a day of tradition. For example, I am from a community that was surrounded by Hungarian and Polish cultures. In these cultures paczki, a cream filled donut type of pastry, are eaten in bundles every year on this day. I know today that I enjoyed my yearly tradition of having a paczki. But, Fat Tuesday doesn’t stop there. With tradition comes giving. Traditions stop if they aren’t passed along. So each year I share that tradition with those around me. Today I ate my paczki, shared the rest with others and passed on the story of my childhood tradition along with it. It is our past that makes us and shapes us into the people we are today.
Camp Joy for example is steeped in tradition. A tradition of excellence, in serving others through experiential learning. Our story started back in 1938 at a downtown church. A man known affectionately as “Cap” understood that there was a need to escape the “concrete jungle” that surrounded the youth he served. In response to a flood that forced his gymnasium to close Cap took a group of young men out to a farm in Kentucky to “learn” about what else there was for them to “experience” in our world. Many of them saw a mailbox and sang songs for the first time, all of them swam in a lake for the first time. It was where the DNA of Camp Joy began to form. It gave those young men a unique experience that they would not get elsewhere. It all started with a dream, a group of kids, and a want to improve the lives of others. In 2011, we are still doing this. Our programs are unique and touch many facets of people’s lives. Our summer camp still serves the same Cincinnati population that Cap worked with and has grown to help those with medical needs as well. It has become a camp experience designed for those that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. Our Outdoor Education program uses an experiential approach to teaching students their classroom material. It is disguised as learning that is fun and gives students a tangible way of understanding the curriculum that is set forth for them. Our Leadership & Development program was designed because organizations had a need to improve processes and work more efficiently and has become just that. The programs are designed around each organizations specific outcome and strive to leave every participant with their “Aha Moment” through experiential learning.
So, on this Fat Tuesday I promise to be full. Full of life, full of tradition, and full of paczkis. What will you be full of?