We enjoyed a visit from long-time Mishawakans Dan Beuthling and Kelley Ryan this week. After 20 years with Camp, they recently moved to British Colombia as owners and operators of Lagoon Cove Marina—a picturesque way station along the Inside Passage to Alaska. They are thriving in the their new roles there, though admitted they were happy to be in proximity to a movie theatre and other modern conveniences—Dan hadn’t left the Island since November!
They recounted stories of the locals (lots of characters, not so different from camp), trading moorage for buckets of fresh shrimp and crab with fisherman, and learning how to address all the challenges that living on a remote island poses. Trouble shooting diesel generators, wrestling with freshly-cut tree limbs, a spring fed water systems, and anticipating rising and falling tides. It’s a bit like operating a summer camp, but also nothing at all like it. It was for them, and would be for most of us, uncharted territory.
They returned with lots of Canadian swag—sweatshirts and socks for Julie, me, and the kids and just the slightest hint of a Canadian accent. They had a whole new vocabulary, nautical and regional, and stories of what’s it’s like to pick up and reinvent oneself, midlife. Many dream of shucking it all and heading off to an island paradise, but Dan and Kelley actually took the leap and are finding a good measure of success and self along the way. It’s affirming, admirable, and impressive all at once. They are getting to know the new territory.
Years ago, when Dan and Kelley looked after our (then) young children while Julie and I were out of town, we returned home to find the group singing songs from the Music Man. Fed up with Teletubbies or Barney, Dan and Kelley introduced Shelby and Harrison to the Music Man, and it stuck. For weeks after our return Shelby and Harrison would spontaneously break out into song. “You Gotta Know the Territory” really made an impression.
Their journey reminded me that you are never too old, or set in your ways, to get to know a new territory. We are reminded of this every summer when we see kids, new to Camp, learn to get to know, not just the geography of Camp Mishawaka, but the features and benefits of being part of a residential summer camp community. Heading off into uncharted waters is never easy, but as I was reminded the other day, ships are built to ply the waters, not stay in port. It’s nice to know that there are places, like Lagoon Cove and Camp Mishawaka to offer safe harbor.