Thoughts About Continuity and Tradition…

Camp Glen Brook has been offering its enriching programs since 1946 and some things are still the same: Fires at the Granite Ring, swimming at the lake, walking on the trails, cleaning up together after meals, ringing the bell and singing together to name a few. Many things have evolved and changed over the years and some have endured.  It brings to mind a metaphysics riddle:  This is my grandfather’s axe.  My father replaced the head.  I replaced the handle.  Is it still my grandfather’s axe?  Let’s think about it in relation to Glen Brook and ask what is at the heart of Glen Brook that causes us to believe that it is still the same place after so many years have passed since it all began. The most obvious is that it is in one location and our sense of place remains relatively intact.  Certainly buildings have been altered, moved, replaced and new ones have popped up.  Still, if we turn onto Glen Brook Road, as we would have in 1946, the camp is where it has always been.  Could it be about perspective and perception?  Let me explain.

Many of you have a relationship with Camp Glen Brook which extends back to its very beginnings.  Others might have chanced upon this writing and have no history with the place at all.  Most of you have a relationship with the camp around programs in which you have participated and therefore your perceptions of Glen Brook stem from the way in which you have participated. There are countless ways people have encountered Glen Brook and therefore there are as many ideas of what Glen Brook is.  


In all that we do, our touchstone is our mission.


 Herein lies the essence of Glen Brook’s continuity: In all that we do, our touchstone is our mission. Finding the true expression of our mission in the context of a rapidly changing world is approached with caution and care.  There must be a balance between tradition and innovation, honoring our past, being in the present and looking forward. Despite evolving, when people visit Glen Brook, it is important that they are able to enter with a sense of assurance that it is the same place they last visited. Things are familiar, predictable and loved.

Merriam-Webster defines continuity as “uninterrupted connection, succession, or union” and as “uninterrupted duration or continuation especially without essential change.” The Glen Brook community has witnessed decades of continuity. Traditions have been sustained, albeit with some updating.  During the summer, we still set aside time to show reverence and gratitude during Sunday Circle (previously Sunday Service.) We continue to recite words of gratitude and reflection before meals. We offer opportunities for stewardship and work and play in the natural world. All of this leads to a burgeoning sense of personal and global responsibility.  We create ripples which reach beyond our borders.

It might seem to some of us that Glen Brook is like Brigadoon, a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality. To others, Glen Brook is a shining example of what we must all strive for everywhere.  To that end we are always looking forward, guided by words such as sustainability, stewardship and innovation and striving to express our mission through our actions.  That is our tradition.  That is what endures.

– Katy Gibney


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