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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

On Being Grateful

Our entire camp is focused on being grateful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have. And one ten year old girl named Ellie reminded me powerfully of this yesterday.

We gather each morning for the Thank You Bowl. Campers and instructors have spent the camp writing thank you notes to each other. Then we draw from the bowls three campers names and three instructors names each morning, and I read them to the camp as examples of how we can lift each other up. Everyone has a thank you in the bowl so it is not a contest, just a random drawing of the goodness we see in others.

As most of you know, we are grieving the loss of Steve Wilkinson as a friend, coach, teacher, and founder of TLC, and so are many of you. I have felt both sad and elated this camp seeing his spirit live on in the mission of TLC.

Yesterday, a camper reached into the bowl for the very first thank you of the summer and handed it to me to read. Stunned, I see….. Steve’s name.

Ellie wrote:

Dear Steve, Thank you for creating TLC. I would not be here having so much fun while improving my game (without you). You are such an encouraging person. From, Ellie

Ellie focused not on Steve’s death, but on the life he still brings. So much so that she did not write, “You were an encouraging person,” but “You are an encouraging person.”

I looked around at the campers and staff and said, “There is nothing more beautiful than this thank you being the first of the summer. When Steve was dying and I asked him what I would do without him in my life, he said, ‘You’re not getting rid of me that easy. I’ll be there.”

And he is. In every smiley face Barb puts on the rackets, in every instructor who took TLC’s philosophy to heart, in every camper who has ever heard of The Three Crowns.

Am I sad? Yes. Am I elated? Yes. Is Steve here? Yes. Sometimes it takes a ten year old girl to help me see that. I am grateful.



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