Kindness is Like Sprinkles
Hi. My name is Kim Miles and I’m a recovering lifelong summer camper.
From a very young age, I went to summer camp. First, it was a day camp where I happily boarded a bus and spent the day in the woods learning how to sling a bow and arrow, paddle a canoe, play tetherball and ultimately come home with an armful of arts and crafts. (More craft than art.) Eventually, I tried overnight camp. At first, I attended for a month and at the end of that four-week period, I would cry and cry when I saw my parents pull up the camp drive to take me home. I never ever wanted to leave.
At the first opportunity, I started to attend camp for the entire summer. The moment that school let out I would start to organize my packing. (You think shopping for fresh school supplies is satisfying? That’s nothing compared to the annual camp shop!) In the beginning, my parents would help me pack. But after a couple of summers, it became old hat and I became a “master packer.” The joke in my family is that every summer my brother and I would say, “Thank you soooo much for sending us to summer camp for eight weeks!” And they would look at each other, slyly smile and say, “Nooooo, thank YOU!”
I went on to become a counselor and spent every summer until I went to college at my beloved summer home. To this day, my camp friends and the memories we created together are some of my most cherished. Camp is where I truly learned independence. It’s where I learned about the magic of long-distance friendships. It’s where I learned that eight weeks can feel like a lifetime when living in a blissful bubble of fun and frivolity.
This summer, my ten-year-old niece attended overnight camp for the very first time. She. Was. Ecstatic. As was I, for her! My brother and I would regale her with stories of our camper days and she loved hearing about all of our adventures. The night before she left, I was able to spend some time with her and we were talking about all the things she was excited about. That list included all the predictable items: water sports, the trampoline, making new friends, etc. It was then that I asked her a favor: I asked her to make me a promise.
I asked her to promise me that she would always be kind to everyone she meets, no matter what.
I told her that to this day, as an adult, whenever I bump into old friends from camp, they always think of me fondly and remember me as always being nice to them. I explained to my niece how important that is and how no act of kindness is too small. I explained to her that if she sees someone being left out or sad, it’s her job to lend a hand or a kind word. I made her promise me. And she did.
And then I started to cry. I cried because it’s so very simple to be kind and yet for so many people it’s so very hard. I cried because I thought of how many times in my life I’ve been the recipient of a random act of kindness and how such a small gesture can have such a profound impact on someone. But mostly I cried because I was so proud that my niece truly understood what I was asking of her.
So, as I await my first letter from my niece, here’s what I wish for you and your summer. Whether you are a camper or not, may all your pool parties be cool, your cookouts be hot, and your ice cream be loaded with sprinkles. Kindness is like sprinkles: too much is never enough.
©Copyright 2019 Kim Miles, Founder and CEO, Miles in Heels Productions, LLC