Dear 2002 Steve –
It’s me 2022 Steve. Hey. What’s up? I’m taking a moment to reflect on my last 20 summers up here in Maine and wanted to thank you for deciding to come work at Manitou in 2002. I know it was scary coming to a place that you didn’t know, with people that you didn’t know - but it actually changed your whole life and gave you a community of friends from around the world and a place to make dynamic theater with the most energetic campers. It’s become a part of your life and you’ve become a part of the community – that manitou magic that everyone talks about.
You know the STEEEEVE chat? Well that started 20 years ago today. On your birthday in 2002 when you were introducing the third play of the summer - well Just as you took the stage, Eric Green (who would go on to be a dean in 2007) shouted from the audience “Happy Birthday Steeeve” and then the next week for play 4 when you took the stage he just shouted “Steeeeve” well guess what? That continued for years. Each time you got on stage to introduce a play the camp yells STTEEEEVE – even in summers that you aren’t at camp, when the theater director introduces the play the camp yells STEEEEVE. It’s become a tradition and even though it’s a small thing, it really is moment of pride that the Steeeve still continues 20 years later.
Also, 2002 Steve, lots of people will ask you what your favorite Manitou play is. And that is an impossible question to answer. Some of your proudest theatrical moments will be those on the Manitou playhouse. But you won’t be able to choose a favorite play. There are though, moments that you’ll always remember. And stories from each play because the campers here work in a way that you’ve never seen before. Even though during the school year, you work with theater students, you’ll find that there is something remarkable about working with campers at Manitou. For some this is the only place they do theater. For many this will be their first on stage experience. And because the way that camp works, this campers will try their hardest – do their best – show up in ways that your theater students haven’t. One of the camps core values is “Make every day count” – and you will see examples of that time and time again. You’ll see campers who are afraid to be on stage – take a lead role and succeed in a way he never thought he could. You will see campers help each other out when others forget lines or drop props or have stage fright. You will see the definition of teamwork on the manitou stage. You will see campers make every day count time and time again - on stage or on the fields or in college league or color war. Camp brings out the best in so many, camp allows campers to take risks – to be brave – to become leaders. Just take one moment to watch the campers give a pep talk before a play or a loop or a game and you will see this determination, this grit, that you don’t see anywhere else.
Over the years, 2002 Steve, You will have campers email you telling you that because of their great camp experience in the theater, they have started doing theater at their high school. And even though everyone wants their play to win, you’ll find that at the end of the summer it doesn’t matter as much. It’s the experience, the team building games, the laughter, the friendship of that week that they will remember the most. You will be overwhelmed by how much camp will grow to mean to you. And you, Steve in 2002, must also make every day count. While at camp go on a boat, climb the tower, play on a color war team, swim in the lake, make friends with people you would never have the opportunity to meet otherwise, be the voice for those who may not have one, trust in the good of the people here, be your truest self here, advocate for change when it benefits those who need it most – make every day count. And above all else, Steve from 2002, carry the spirit and the magic of Manitou with you – you’ll discover that camp (the physical place) is always a place you can return to, and camp (the feeling) is always there whenever you need it.
I’m so grateful that you, a theater guy from NY, decided to work at an all-boys sports camp in Maine in 2002. It brought you so much happiness and I can’t wait to check in with you in another 20 years. Happy Birthday!
-Steve from 2022