At my summer camp, people “fade in” when you arrive at camp and “fade out” when you leave. Honored guests are sometimes introduced to the camp, but overall, people come and go very quietly, without fuss and fanfare.
I’ve always honored the tradition, although I struggle with letting people “fade in”. I can see the sense of it… I guess that when new people arrive during regular camp activities, it could be very distracting for all of the staff to stop what they are doing to greet the person. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially when someone special to me arrives at camp, and I have to be patient and wait for a discrete opportunity to finally say hello. My family has the opposite tradition. When someone arrives, you drop everything, run, holler, and hug them with all your might! Patrick is catching on to our tradition, and loves to greet his dad every day after work. And when you are the one arriving, you make a big scene, honk the horn, and let everyone know you’re excited to be with them. Obviously this wouldn’t work well at camp, but I still struggle with “fade in” as it is not my natural tendency.
The tradition of “Fading out” at camp has much more sentimental value to me. People come and go at camp a lot. Campers and junior staff leave at the end of every week. Visiting staff can be there for a week session or just a few days. But camp is an annual tradition, and people are very faithful to my camp. They always come back year after year, and it’s wonderful to see them again. So the idea behind “fade out” is that we don’t need an emotional farewell every time someone leaves camp. We’ll see him or her again soon. And we’ll pick up right where we left off in friendship. In fact, we even sing it in a song the last night of camp, “… this is good-night and not good-bye.”
The reason I’m thinking about this philosophy of my camp today is because Steve Jobs, Apple CEO and tech visionary, died last night. So in the end, “fading out” really is good-bye and not just good-night. He won’t be back next year. And what a loss. I will miss him and all of the remarkable ways that he touched my life… even though I never met him. I am inspired by his vision, innovation, passion, and success to create wonderful tools that improve the world.
“Fade in/fade out” as a camp tradition might sound like an odd behavior for which to have a philosophy. But I realize the beauty of it: we all appreciate being together when we have the opportunity. Greetings and farewell at camp are not the important events. What matters is how we enjoy each other’s company at each moment and enrich each other’s lives while we’re sharing wonderful experiences.
So… to all of the people through the years who have touched my life through a love of camp, you have a special place in my heart and I hope we get to “fade in” again in the future. To my friends and family, I will continue to greet you in a big way… but also appreciate the moments in the middle. And to my techie colleagues as we morn the loss of an icon, thank you for sharing your talent and your ingenuity to solve problems and make the world a better place.