It’s 4am. I stumbled onto a hashtag of photos folks shared this week. Mostly pretty photos of happy scenes (where they have kind-heartedly cropped out the 40 pounds of goose poop blanketing the pier, and all of our other endless non-instagram-friendly realities).
And I just came to the realization of what actually happens when a group of inspired creative people decide to get together to make something happen. To plan, drink, cook, drink, vent, photograph, make frozen negroni slushies, inspire, do PBR keg stands, build, collaborate…and photograph it all.
They are just trying their best to have a good time, yes. But also to find & share the best part of themselves in hopes of fueling their own passions…and end up leaving a little bit…More.
When folks come to camp and try (really try) to make an experience special for themselves and each other – they sometimes come to a little revelation: That making other people happy is what makes us all happy.
And, hell, it’s what keeps us going too:
Groups that we crush on so hard like Shinola, Anthropoligie, Facebook, Trek, Lululemon — come to this run down place, and tell us they pretty much come for the same reason. To get out of the city. To get to hurl hatchets & do that “shot-ski thingy.” And to get out of their own heads…and get into a different mindset entirely.
Some make their own bad homemade t-shirts. Or extra-special brownies. Hand-drawn welcome signs that they tried really hard on but have to burn later cause it didn’t look like the one on pinterest. Menus. Activity sheets of crazy stuff they haven’t done since they where in 3rd grade. But they all make up their minds that they WILL have a good time, rain or shine.
Strangely, they don’t seem to give a damn that we have crappy beds, barely functioning plumbing & no locks on the bedroom doors. They don’t just “make the best of it,” they MAKE it everything they envision. They’re hell-bent on bringing their vision to fruition. (“You WILL macrame a pot holder with the group, Cindy!”) They are the dreamers that we love so very much. There’s nothing wrong with secretly loving macrame or the occasional trust fall.
We finally accepted that at the end of the day, no matter how much we decorate to cover up those growing wall cracks & caving walls…we’re still just a hodge-podge of run down cabins on the edge of the woods. You can close your eyes and throw a stone in any direction and find more civil accommodations.
The difference, we think, are the folks that come here. They make the conscious choice to make something memorable, come hell or high water.
We like to think that every person who comes here with their family / to marry their soulmate / to launch their dream company / to celebrate a birth…leaves a little bit of their residual good vibes behind. And it’s that collective hopeful karma that keeps us going here. (Against the sage advice of businesspeople much smarter than us, we will keep donating the space to creative charity groups as much as we can. It keeps us going – and forces us to keep our day jobs – which is what really keeps the lights on here.
So when we see people sharing pictures of their stay with us, it’s a reminder of why we are here on weekends (after pulling a 60 hour work week) cleaning the drainage ditches, patching canoes and generally trying to keep the camp – and our minds – together. We’re reminded that we’re just the current caregivers for this place, one of many over the past 90+ years.
Nobody notices that it’s there, but hiding in a stone grotto behind our entry sign (buried in all manner of brush and bird crap) is a little religious statue that the Latvian Catholics erected in the 1960s. Some mason congregation volunteer built a sweet but sad little red brick pedestal to make a cheap statue a tiny bit more proud – and placed a marble plaque in it – all ready to be engraved.
For reasons we’ve yet to figure out, 50 years later it still had never been engraved.
We aren’t what you’d call religious types, but we believe all things revolve around karma
and felt the incessant urge that we needed a patron saint of our own (to keep receiving & collecting that good karma).
BEING INSPIRED IS ABOUT PAYING YOUR DUES.
YOU GET INSPIRED BY SOMEONE / SOMETHING/ SOME PLACE…
YOU PAY IT FORWARD.
YOU COLLECT SOME WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE GATES,
YOU LEAVE SOME BEHIND WHEN YOU LEAVE.
So after 50 years of that plaque standing by for a special dedication name – a few years ago, we finally chose the one it had been waiting for and carved it in stone. (Someday, we’ll tell you the story of the actual man behind those letters.) The spirit of the person carved in that black granite slab is the honorary collector and keeper of good vibes.
His rules are simple:
1. Don’t flush anything you shouldn’t or there will be an epic & sudden overflow situation that you will have to clean up all by yourself.
But almost as important:
ALL ARE WELCOME, but none shall pass the threshold bearing ill will or anything resembling hate. So don’t come here if you are looking for a pampered vacation, a decent wifi connection, or doors that lock.
Don’t come here bearing prejudice of any kind.
Come here with all of your baggage, but feel free to leave any behind. The extra that’s been holding you back.
Like taking the exit row seat, you have to be willing & able to assist.
To be open-minded to new things. Forgiving of your 1/8th star room and accepting of others.
Willing and able to seek an experience that you will create almost entirely on your own.
Come here to get inspired, but don’t forget to leave some of those inspiration dues behind for others.
The collector of good will at the gate has a bottomless collection box for the next visitors to pull from. And he doesn’t accept IOUs
photo by shannon richmond / instagtram: ms_shannypants