When our kids were in fifth and sixth grade at St. Michael’s they had an amazing opportunity to attend Camp Pendalouan to meet and bond with their future classmates from St. Francis and Sacred Heart before the three elementary schools came together as one class in the seventh grade. Chad and Kelly had already been through this great camping experience so Corey was excited for his fifth grade class to go and was hoping to get in the same cabin as his older cousin Matt Grimm who he loved and admired. Matt was one of the MCC high school students chosen to go as a camp counselor. The bond that developed between the elementary and high school students during their week at camp was always so amazing. While at camp the students were challenged physically and mentally on a difficult ropes course with the goal of encouraging each classmate on their team to finish the course, even the weak and the frightened. They learned silly new things like watching sparks fly while chewing Life Savers in the dark. They experienced first-hand what it was like for a large group of kids to eat everything on their plate and not to waste a single morsel of food. And they were guided spiritually in a beautiful but simple environment.
One evening at a St. Michael’s Home and School Association meeting principal Elaine Bertram informed us that a parent complained about inappropriate behavior at night in one of the cabins so the administration felt a need to cancel the overnight part of camp for the fifth and sixth graders. I was so disappointed so I decided to challenge it. The next day I talked with Elaine and told her I didn’t agree with the decision that was made and asked if she thought it would do any good to challenge it. Within hours Elaine had set up a meeting with three principals, a teacher, the parent that had the concern and me. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, what have I done.”
On the day of the meeting I was really nervous but I was prepared to state the value of keeping the overnight part of camp. As we gathered together at the high school for the meeting I believe we started it with a prayer. Everyone had a voice in the meeting and then someone suggested having a parent stay in each of the cabins. We all agreed this to be a great solution so we were able to resolve the overnight camping problem by having a parent stay overnight in the cabins with the students. I felt really good about the outcome and I believe everyone else did, too.
Thankfully, today the concerned parent and I are friends and some of our kids actually went on to become high school camp counselors themselves when they got older. Wouldn’t it be nice if all differences could end in a peaceful outcome?