Where Everybody Knows Your Name
The TV show Cheers might only exist in re-runs today, but its famous theme song still rings true.
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Listening to the song, we at Camp Wyoming can’t help but think of summer camp. This is the place where kids come to get away, to take a break from their busy, scheduled, lives and have an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else. Camp isn’t just about the activities; it’s about the chance to have conversations, to be part of a group, and to be known.
Our fascination with the internet and social media today has a lot to do with the idea of being known. It’s why we post videos of us doing ridiculous, sometimes not the smartest things, all the while hoping maybe it will go viral and become an internet sensation. We want to be known. The most intimate details of our lives become status updates and every moment can be iconicized in an Instagram photo. We just want to be known. We want someone to understand why and how and what we are, more than just surface level knowledge. “Know me!” we scream at the world, even as we stage our photos and posts to portray a filtered, perfect, unrealistic version of ourselves.
When kids come to summer camp, the pressure to live up to the standards of their social media selves melts away as they cover themselves in mud, sleep in a cave, and climb dripping from the kayak after an intense game of kayak polo. At camp, they don’t have to look or be a certain way to get people to notice them. Their experiences are authentic, the conversations are genuine, and they find that they can share those parts of themselves that they have to keep hidden from the world. In their small group, amidst their peers, they can finally be known for exactly who they are. For many of them, this is something that doesn’t happen anywhere else. This one week of the summer is their only chance to open up, discover, fail, laugh, and share every part of their person without fear of judgment.
All of us want that chance to go where everybody knows our name. This summer during Bible study, a group of high school kids were talking about the importance of support and helping to bear each other’s burdens. “Some of us are just independent,” one girl asserted. “We shoulder our pains and our fears by ourselves, and it’s fine.” The rest of the group was quick to recognize this attempt to filter a reality and disagreed. “You can do it,” another camper offered, “but it’s not fine.” As they explored the conversation further, they found themselves peeling off the layers that they often hide behind and sharing their true feelings, fears, struggles, and ideas. They became known to each other in a way that most kids today never get to experience. They had the chance to pray for each other and support each other in a true, authentic, and safe environment.
This is why summer camp is so important. It’s not really about the activities (although we do have a lot of fun here). It’s about giving kids the chance to be known and helping them understand that Christ cares about their whole person, not just the filtered, presentable parts. In a world that is increasingly becoming all about the profiles we create online, it’s important to still find ways to get away and go where everybody knows your name.