Generations of ALCers grew up in camp with Mrs. M. Even after her official retirement in 1993, she was an enduring presence in camp, enjoying daily lunches with campers and finding ways to continue to share her wisdom with the community. One of the many ways she passed her wisdom on to us was through oft-repeated phrases. Part of her wisdom is that there is more to the story than just the surface-level meaning of what she was saying.
We can all see Mrs. M standing by the door to the Farmhouse porch, looking outside before turning back to the camp community to say either “It’s a beautiful Maine day” or “Your skin is your best raincoat.” Through these words, she was helping us embrace the day’s weather, knowing that we were headed off on ALC adventures whether it was sunny or raining. But perhaps the deeper meaning of these words was to embrace the gift of each day at camp. Rain simply wasn’t going to stop us from having fun with camp friends, enjoying our time in the woods of Maine. And the glorious sunshine and 70℉ warmth was an invitation to embrace the beauty around us. Each and every day, Mrs. M encouraged us to go and absorb all we could from our ALC days. We continue to repeat these words today as we cherish our days in camp with dear friends, sailing on the lake (even when it rains!), playing tennis in the warm Maine sunshine, or jumping in puddles on our way to lunch.
“Always leave a place cleaner than you found it.” Whether we were headed to the beach for Beach Day, on a trip, or just cleaning up after lunch, Mrs. M taught us to take care of a place by looking around to see what we can do to help before leaving. We continue to put this message into practice by helping to clean up at the beach, at campsites, community service at camp, and in our activities. Here too, perhaps, there is an unspoken layer: by giving of ourselves, we make the world a better place.
Mrs. M also reminded us to always “remember who you are and what you represent.” Through these words, she was reminding us that as we headed out to the beach, or on a trip, or even home at the end of the summer, we had the honor and responsibility of representing ourselves, our families, and Alford Lake Camp. This message has multiple layers: not only was she inspiring us to be grateful to our families for the opportunity to spend our summers at ALC, she was thoughtfully reminding us that she expected us to honor and respect Alford Lake Camp, no matter where we were. And finally, she expected us to be respectful of ourselves, and to not do anything that would compromise our own integrity.
There is no question that we will deeply miss Mrs. M’s presence in camp. We will miss seeing her surrounded by campers at lunch, her voice starting “Patterns” on Sundays at Logs, her passion for all ALC songs, and so much more. She gave so much to Alford Lake Camp, and it is now the responsibility of all Alford Lakers - young and old - to carry that forward.
Mrs. M’s legacy lives on in all who were entrusted with her wisdom during her 60 years at ALC. Even in the most challenging moments, may we all remember who we are and what we represent, and may we have the courage to embrace the opportunity to joyfully play in the rain.