Right now you have just finished lunch at camp, and are sitting on the couch in H.Q. You probably have camper or two to go check in on. I’m sure at this point you are tired and fed up. Just cruising through the end of a difficult summer. I am going to urge you to change your mindset. I am you, writing to myself from April 2020. Shit has hit the fan, and I want you to be prepared.
Some time in mid January we heard about this thing called “Corona Virus”. It seemed irrelevant amidst a backdrop of global chaos. I’ll set the scene for you. Just before Christmas the House of Representatives voted to Impeach Trump. Don’t get your hopes up, the senate acquits him in January. There were scares of World War Three at the New Year. The democratic primaries have been brutal. Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on the morning of the Oscars. Scared yet? Well we haven’t even made it to February. The trials you and I, me, we, face in February are far more personal. There was a traumatic case of voyeurism across Newport, which involved many of your friends.
Ok, this has been all doom and gloom. Good things have been happening too! We are invited to join Kappa Delta Pi honors society for educators. We’re even selected to be president. You’ve made Dean’s list in the fall. We have also been offered a spot with the Teach For America Corps. Your social life is unreal, and you really do have the time of your life. Oh, right, you get a great job at Empire and work twenty hours a week.
I’m sure you can understand now how busy and chaotic your world is. So when Corona emerged in China and began to spread to Europe, you knew what it was. But you didn’t pay much attention. It didn’t seem important until Newport cancelled the St. Patty’s day parade. Not to worry, we all still partied and had a grand time that day. Then everybody went home for spring break on Sunday. Colleges across the country were closing temporarily for just a few weeks until Easter. This is because the pandemic made its way to America. When we all headed home after St. Patrick’s Day, we expected to be back on campus following Easter. Halfway through spring break, we get an email telling us that school will be online for the remainder of the semester. There’s a catch, all none essential businesses are closed, you can’t go to people’s houses, and everyone has locked themselves inside their homes.
I can’t give you a specific timeline at this point because nobody has one for us. This has been going on for nearly a month now. Tomorrow is Good Friday. You left you house and escaped to Newport for a few weeks. Emily and Erin stay home. You make do visiting Jamie, Payton, Grace, and Noel. But you can’t party. You can’t go out to eat. Officials have closed all the beaches. Playgrounds are covered in caution tape. Staying in your house all day can be agonizing, but going outside is frightening. There is nothing particularly disturbing on the streets. It’s just empty. No one anywhere. You have been surrounded by people constantly for years. Now, you feel a sense of isolation that eats at you.
I am writing this letter because you are coming to the end of the summer and you’ve checked out. DON’T. As I said, there is no concrete timeline for when this will end. It’s looking like camp will likely be cancelled this summer. You wont be able to return the following summer because you will be committing to Teach For America. Once you have finished reading this letter get up and go check in on your campers. Invest yourself into the day to day of camp life as if you were still a camper yourself. Most importantly, connect with your fellow staff members. You catch up via text all the time, but you hardly ever see each other in person. This may be your last few weeks you’ll ever get to spend being with the most amazing people, in such an incredible place. Enjoy living with so many people. Do not take for granted the constant human connection. I yearn to return this summer. Find closure. Connect with new and old acquaintances. So appreciate what you have in front of you. Soon it will be lost. I know, and you should know that what is lost wont be lost forever. But we will have to find ourselves a new normal. Pick up living an adjusted life. For now though, be happy, and never sit out when you have the opportunity to spend time with people, doing even the most mundane things.
Sincerely, Robbie (you)