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The Architect

After watching The Matrix Reloaded again after ten years, I realized I strongly identified with a character that could be considered “God”. I initially regretted this. In the movie, he was an elderly, bearded man wearing a three piece suit. He was omniscient and had been through the Matrix process six times. This man learned from each iteration how to make the next better and focused on the experience of his constituents to drive his process. The similarities didn’t end there. He offered our hero a choice: to change the life of one person or impact the entire community. Neo did both, attesting to the power of free will and determination.

More than ever before, this year I began to see myself as The Architect. I don’t merely design the environment in which my constituents exist; together with my Leadership Staff and stakeholders, we decide the values and behaviors we champion, what exceeds tolerance, and the rules to win the game of life. Simply put, I enjoy spearheading the process of creating a culture that is alive and vigorous and multifaceted.

One of my favorite things is to give a child a bead. These colored bits of “o”-shaped plastic recognize an intentional observation of a kid doing something we hope for: picking up trash, saying “thank you”, fessing up to making a mistake, or going down the zip for the first time. These and many more are all bead-worthy comportments. We have built a system that recognizes a child’s great moment, given it a label (a value) and then! We offer an adult role model that also has that value: “Firemen are also very courageous, and here is your orange bead.”

As I watch my 68 Counselors perform this and many more rituals each day, I bask in the knowledge that I am impacting 600 people each week. I ask my Counselors to tell me what they learned this summer and amongst the usual answers of “show up on time” and “learned how to talk to my co-workers” there is the smattering of “how to guide children’s behavior”. As The Architect I have created an environment of caring and of common sense and of being enthusiastic. As I teach my Counselors so they teach their campers.

The Architect is the designer, the one behind the scenes. Our world is separate from the “real world” and is one where children (and staff) can experiment and safely take risks. At camp people can reinvent themselves through a feeling of autonomy. Young people can choose who they want to be and thus become the best version of themselves. They take this with them back to the real world in conjunction with excellent new relationships and a sense of belonging to a place that will epitomize the thing they feel in few other locations: home.

Our home is intentionally built with the bricks of relationships and appreciation for the diversity of others’ experiences. Our home’s foundation is awe and wonder with load-bearing walls of perspective and reflection. Our roof is the constant attention our staff puts towards protecting our community from pessimism, solipsism, and nihilism.

I am The Architect. I marvel at our flowers, our youngin’s, and the sun. I get to wonder to myself about this majesty and then to celebrate with everyone who will listen: “WE DID THIS!”