I was eight years old when I first visited Red Arrow. It was the summer of 1990, and my sister was at Campo Fiesta on the other side of Trout Lake. My father and I were visiting a variety of camps to see which one I wanted to attend the following summer. The first one on the list? RAC. So we pulled up to 3980 Day Lake Road, parked the car, and entered the quad. I'm not known for my superb memory, but I was not suprised when my father told me that we were immediately greeted by Sue. We got a tour of the cabins, the "eight" (Sue waited outside, of course), the waterfront, and the stables. Frankly, I can't remember exactly what struck me, but something did. It could have been the fresh cookie that the cooks gave me. It could have been the smiles on the campers faces as they played basketball, softball, and soccer. I don't know. But something did. When we finally got back to the car, my dad told me the name of the next camp we were scheduled to visit. I immediately answered - no. I want to go to Red Arrow. This may sound like something out of a cheap novel - love at first sight. Well, it happens to be true. When I made the decision to go to RAC, I could not have imagined the impact that it has on me to this day.
It is hard to try to keep the reasons why in one page, so I will try to narrow it down. The most important lesson I have learned at RAC is friendship. My most solid friendships have been formed there. RAC is not one of those places that forces you to get to know other people. Granted, you must get to know your cabinmates, as you will be spending seven weeks with them. When I say it does not push you to form friendships, I am trying to point out that it is something that inevitably happens. Again, the reasons escapes me. The RAC experience is a unique one. It has pieces of Outward Bound in it, pieces of a sports camp, parts of, yes, a learning environment, a little bit of performance activities, and a lot more. here I have to pause, because it is really not the number of the activities that is so unique. It is the types of activities, and the quality of the activities that makes the RAC atmosphere.
Friendship is undoubtably the best "thing" (for lack of a better word) that I have learned at RAC. Friendship is encouraged, but not forced. At the end of the year, a camper is elected by his fellow campers to recieve the Friendship Cup award, which bears this enscription, written by the one of the founders of RAC, Carl Rasmussen:
Perhaps of all of the following qualities are possessed by the TRUE FRIEND:
A true friend will always be loyal. He will quietly and sincerely congratulate you if attain great honors. He will be seen close to you if you have been wrong, or if you have suffered defeat. He will tell you that it takes more courage to be wrong than to be right, that your error or defeat need not be a disaster, that no matter how badly you have been beaten, you may rise - that you do not have to stay the way you are!
A true friend, with deep and becoming humility, will set the pattern for performance. He will not be seeking, but will be ever alert to giving. He will never haughtily give orders; but at the right moments, as did the greatest human being that ever lived, he will give that the greatest of commands: FOLLOW ME.
Not far from your fun and work at Red Arrow are the big paths of life, really no more challenging than those at camp. [The great and simple secret will still be that nothing worthwhile comes without work.] And, just as you did in camp, you will find in the days ahead that peace and good cheer are within reach if a friend stands near.