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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A lesson in investments

I know.  It's been a month.  I apologize.  Work has been incredible and in the month of July I have only been in Indiana for 1 weekend (most of which I spent napping).  I promise I've continued to learn lessons and I will blog about them all.  The most recent lesson I've learned is about investing.

One week a year I escape to Sandy Island in New Hampshire.  Every year has been "our last year at camp" and somehow I find myself back on the porch of my cabin every third week of July.  This year was no different.  I had said my goodbyes last summer knowing that I'd be interning this summer and accepted that I wouldn't be in attendance.  Until about May.  Then I decided I just had to go back.  So I made the arrangements with work and was able to make it to the island on Thursday of the week.  It hit me the first night that there were reasons I was drawn to Sandy Island that stem beyond the beautiful lake and the bugs that share the shower.  It is part of who I am.

Sure, it isn't tough to love a camp that has 3 meals a day prepared for you and signaled by a bell.  It isn't hard to love a place with so much to offer from kayaking to bocce to an absurd water carnival.  It isn't a challenge to want to be a part of seriously hokey traditions that were started when the camp opened in 1898 in a lodge that was built in 1938.  But it's something else that brings me, and many others, back year after year.

It's the emotional investment, not only that I've put into the island but also that the people have put into me.  When I was six that investment was nothing more than having thirty surrogate parents making sure I was okay.  But now that I'm 22, it's the investment each of them have made year after year.  It's the reason that without second thought someone volunteers a boat to come pick me up.  It's the reason I heard more than five times "If there is anything I can do to help in the job search, please call".  It's the reason that people I see once a year read my blog to see what I'm up to.  And it's the reason that, though I no longer need parenting in the disciplining sense, I could ask anyone on the island for advice and receive more than I bargained for.

The best part is that it has essentially come for free.  Sure at age 5 I had cute looks on my side, but we all saw me between the ages of 11-14 and know that looks were not included as a redeeming quality.  But it is without hesitation that the people at camp want to be involved in my life.  And I'm so grateful.

It isn't just the adults, it's also the kids I've grown up with.  Sure, now we aren't kids, in fact we are far from it drinking our cocktails at dinner, but our friendship comes as easily as it did on the 4-square court 15 years ago.  It's easy.  It's fun.  It's real friendship.  It's why I received text messages and phone calls and pictures and facebook posts for the 4 days I wasn't at camp.  And it's why I was up until 3 am my first night on the beach, solving the problems of the world and hearing about what has happened in the year past.

In the same line of thought, I've learned that your investment in relationships is the best investment you can make.  And that doesn't stop with strangers or friends.  I had the chance to spend a lot of time with family while I was home, though they "love you unconditionally", it doesn't hurt even a little bit to invest in your family relationships.  Whether it was my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my cousins kids, I realized that I could be better at thanking them for their investment in me.  So pick up a pen and paper, the phone, or your email and send your family a letter.  Whether it's a postcard to say hello, or a long detailed description of your day to your great-aunt, it will be appreciated and you'll feel better about doing it.

I forget which lesson number I'm on, but this is it: make one investment that doesn't cost you anything. it'll pay you back more than you realize.