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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

A Simple, Quiet Act

Camper Annie

The first night of the summer at TLC is full of a lot of things, as the worlds of 40 TLC staff members and 100 campers meet.  Hope.  Fun. Laughter. Anxiety. Joy. Learning.  And, in my case, forgetfulness.

After 38 years of this, you’d think I’d remember the exact order of things.  You would be wrong.  In our opening program in the dorm after lessons, I always forget to mention something.

This year, it was one of my least favorite things to forget.  “On your way out, campers, please look under your chairs, between aisles, anywhere and everywhere and take your garbage with you.”  (Plates, forks, cups, stray grapes, runaway crackers, watermelon playing hide and seek). Being kids the first night, without a reminder, it doesn’t happen if you don’t say something. Being me the first night, I forgot.

And then it was too late. They had raced off to their dorm counselor meeting upstairs.

I surveyed the carnage. After a long day that started at 4:30 AM (it was 9 PM with a staff meeting to

Annie hitting a backhand with stylish sunglasses.

come), it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I said out loud, to no one in particular, because I talk to myself a lot out

loud, “Dang! I forgot to tell them to pick up their garbage. Dang!”

Then a 12 year old voice from behind said, “Can I help?” It was Annie.

Without pausing, she pitched in and started methodically collecting. Plate after plate. Quietly. Until they were piled high with a balancing act of the evening’s doings.

When we finished, I was struck. How one simple act changed my entire day for the better.

And so begins the summer…


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