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Poems

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Be the Best of Whatever You Are

by Douglas Malloch

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley--but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass--
But the livelist bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
It isn't be size that you win or you fail--
Be the best of whatever you are!

Candle Dipping

by Clara Bell Thurston


A candle's but a simple thing;
It starts with just a bit of string.
Yet dipped and dipped with patient hand
It gathers wax upon the strand
Until, complete and snowy white,
It gives at last a lovely light.

Life seems so like that bit of string:
Each deed we do a simple thing;
Yet day by day if on life's strand
We work with patient heart and hand,
It gathers joy, makes dark days bright,
And gives at last a lovely light.

Candlelight Campfire

By Helen Lester

There's a song in my heart as I see them go
Up the steps quiet and slow,
Each girl carrying to her world, we know,
A tiny part of our campfire's glow.
Symbolic? Yes, -'tis very true,
For the logs, my dears, are me and you,
Bound together and fused from above
By "God's sweet grace of warmth and love."
From the logs each takes her little flame,
Set afloat, it will bear our name
To drift and race, to dip and sway,
O'er rough or smooth waters, on it's way.
As each girl places her candle there
The song in my heart becomes a prayer -
"God keep her safe on the river of life,
May that spark of love save her from strife;
May she find the beauty and ecstasy;
The sordid things may she never see;
May they be hidden from her sight
By a blinding flame of true delight
In the beauty surrounding her every day.
God, lead her always upon her way."

Drop a Pebble In the Water

by James W. Foley

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You've disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there's gladness still a-swelling, and there's joy a-circling yet,
And you've rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

A Friend's Greeting

by Edgar A. Guest

I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me;
I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be;
I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way.

I'd like to do the big things and the splendid things for you,
To brush the gray from out your skies and leave them only blue;
I'd like to say the kindly things that I so oft have heard,
And feel that I could rouse your soul the way that mine you stirred.

I'd like to give you back the joy that you have given me,
Yet that were wishing you a need I hope will never be;
I'd like to make you feel as rich as I, who travel on
Undaunted in the darkest hours with you to lean upon.

I'm wishing at this Christmas time that I could but repay
A portion of the gladness that you've strewn along my way;
And could I have one wish this year, this only would it be:
I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me.

The Flag II

by Betsy Strum Ellis


When I was a little girl at summer camp, we had flag raising every single morning, except Sunday, when we rested and raised the flag later. It was the older girls who were honor campers who raised the flag each morning. I dreamt one day of raising the flag, because it was an honor to do so. Every morning the bugle blew and everyone quickly got dressed and ran outside their cabins in a straight line. The younger campers were closest to the flag and the older campers farthest away. Each cabin in their straight lines facing the flagpole as the honor campers each holding a part of the open flag walked from the dining hall to the flag pole quietly and solemnly and raised the flag. Then after the last two girls had tied the ropes they all stood in a line facing all of the camp and on the count of three looked high into the sky at old glory and began the Pledge of Allegiance and everyone else joined in. Most days we took flag raising for granted just part of our everyday events at camp. One summer, years later I myself joined the ranks of the honor campers and found myself actively involved in morning flag raising. With that responsibility came not only raising the flag, but also lowering and caring for the flag. Every evening one of us honor campers had to make sure the flag was down and folded properly (NO RED can show). I remember running from the rifle range one day (which is far) in the rain because the flag needed to come down. When any drop of rain fell our first thought was always the flag. Someone had to get to the flag first to get it down so it would not get wet. I never remember complaining about any of these flag duties, even the many times I ran and ran to the flag pole only to find two of my friends all ready on the porch out of the rain folding the flag and placing it neatly in its place on the mantle of the old fireplace in our dinning hall. One summer we noticed that our flag had become old and was fraying at the edges. We told the camp director that it was time for a new flag. We had a big ceremony and our director who was aging had someone from the military come and present us a new one and take our old one. I remember how proud he looked up in the sky at our new flag flying in the breeze. So many years later I find myself thinking about the days of everyday flag raising and how much I learned about our United States of America’s flag. I always respected the flag. Now my daughter attends a summer camp where my mom lives and she is now learning the spirit of patriotism and caring for the flag. On September 11, my mom walked from her house down to the main camp area, dug out Old Glory, and walked to the center of camp and raised her proudly on the old camp flagpole. No one was there to see it, but in all of our hearts and minds, all of us old campers knew it was flying.
January 1, 2002

Friendship

by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Oh, the comfort--the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a
person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words--but pouring them
All right out--just as they are--
Chaff and grain together--
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them--
Keep what is worth keeping--
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

The Human Touch

by Spencer Michael Free

'Tis the human touch in this world that counts,
The touch of you hand and mine,
Which means far more to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine;
For shelter is gone with the night is o'er,
And bread lasts only a day,
But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul alway.

I Can Remember the Smell of Summer

by Betsy Strum Ellis


I can remember the smell of summer
I can remember the bright blue skies
I can remember the big green mountains
I can feel the cool crisp river flowing gently through camp
I can hear the children laughing and I can hear the children playing
and I can look to those days for comfort and I look to those days for happiness
And I can smile and remember the days of yesterday.

And I look to the children's laughter and remember my own smiling face
And I think of those happy times and remember the friendships I made
And when I think of my childhood, I feel the warmth in my heart
Knowing all my friendships and memories will not ever fade

I can remember those long talks with friends
Swimming in the river and canoeing upstream
Just floating down with not a care in the world
Just living a wonderful dream.

And I look to the children's laughter and remember my own smiling face
And I think of those happy times and remember the friendships I made
And when I think of my childhood, I feel the warmth in my heart
Knowing my friendships and memories will not ever fade.

I can remember the friendly competition
I can feel the excitement of teamwork and fun
I'll always be grateful for what I have learned
About life and friendships and just being young.

And I look to the children's laughter and now see my own child there
I smile to myself because I know how she feels and can see all the love in her heart
She's learning about friendships and teamwork and fun
But most of all she is learning what it's like to be young.

It's a Pretty Good World

by Dr. T's Mom

It's a pretty good world
And it's yours and mine
To fill with gloom
Or bright sunshine.
To fill with sadness
Or fill with cheers
With joy and gladness
Or bitter tears.
God gave it to you
And He gave it to me
So, let's make it the world
He meant it to be.

Jackson

by Beth Nuckols Witter

I tripped over a memory of the Jackson today,
It came upon me, the feeling of
Parting the clear cool water
With my hands and rolling over to touch the sun.
I could feel the rocks holding stable
Under my feet,
While the current rushed by -
I could go with it if I really wanted
But I think I'll stay…
I relive the long underwater swim
Up to the Rock and
(Jane Elkins didn't get me this time)
I grasp the edge and dig my fingers in,
Careful not to get swept away -
I heave myself up and turn around
Only to dive in again
And again
And again
In my memory I could warmly feel that
You were right behind me each time,
My beautiful friend.

Kneel Always

Kneel always when you light a fire
Kneel reverently and grateful be
For God's unfailing charity
And on the ascending flame inspire
A little prayer which shall upbear
The incense of our thankfulness
For this sweet grace of warmth and light
For here again is sacrifice for our delight
Kneel always when you light a fire
Kneel reverently and grateful be
For God's unfailing charity.

Love

by Roy Croft

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumbar of my life
Not a tavern but a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

New Friends and Old Friends

by Joseph Parry

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, those are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test--
Time and change--are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast--
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, those are gold.

She Stands in Silence

by Margaret Whalen

She stands in silence
With head held high,
Her boundary fences
The earth and sky.

This is a picture of a girl who has gotten from camp all the worthwhile things.
A girl who has learned to appreciate…the rosy glow of sunset; the mist, as it winds and scarves through the woodland; the wind, as it whispers in soft conversations with the leaves; the blueness of evening; the stars as they grow smaller and paler; the meadow silver with dew. In short, the simple unadorned beauty of God's won earth, wind and trees, sun, moon and stars.

A girl who knows that camp is a chapter in the Book of Life, rich with real wonder of human relationships…that camp is the finest place to live in, grow in, to learn to give oneself, to know the true self of others, to be with God in his own setting. A girl who knows how to stand in silence with head held high…a girl whose boundary fences are the earth and sky.

Summer's Sundays

by Beth Nuckols Witter

Queen Anne's Lace
And morning glories placed
Carefully on the pillow

Little girls in white
Swinging along the open road
Bathed in the sun's yellow glow

A circle of friends in the Glenn
Softly singing for Vespers
Poems read that touch the heart

Passing notes in the quiet of rest hour
Letters to home in exchange for ice cream
Cold wet bathing suits hanging to dry

Pine needles sticking to bare feet
James Taylor playing low on the radio
And warm eyes from across the campfire

Here are snapshots of calm on
A background we called summer
Moments repeated with honor every Sunday

Although my time has not been
Worthy of such reverence since
I shall long for the week's end to always be this way.

The More You Give, the More You Get

by Dr. T

The more you give, the more you get
The more you laugh, the less you fret
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you live abundantly.
The more of everything you share
The more you'll always have to spare.
The more you love, the more you'll find,
That life is good, and friends are kind.

To A Friend

by Grace Stricker Dawson

You entered my life in a casual way,
And saw at a glance what I needed;
There were others who passed me or met me each day,
But never a one of them heeded.
Perhaps you were thinking of other folks more,
Or chance simply seemed to decree it;
I know there were many such chances before,
But the others-well, they didn't see it.

You said just the thing that I wished you would say,
And you made me believe that you meant it;
I held up my head in the old gallant way,
And resolved you should never repent it;
There are times when encouragement means such a lot,
And a word is enough to convey it;
There were others who could have, as easy as not--
But, just the same, they didn't say it.

There may have been someone who could have done more
To help me along, though I doubt it;
What I needed was cheering, and always before
They had let me plod onward without it.
You helped to refashion the dream of my heart,
And made me turn eagerly to it;
There were others who might have (I question that part)--
But, after all, they didn't do it!

To Your Little House

by Helen Lester
Read at Candlelight Campfire 1954

I shall remember candlelight
And the low fire burning
When the only sound was a quiet word
Or a book page turning.

I shall hear the song of the wind
And the patter of the rain
When cold days and dark days
Beat at us again.

I must follow a dark road,
A road that has no turning -
But I shall remember candlelight
And the low fire burning.

Touching Shoulders

Anonymous

There's a comforting thought at the close of the day,
When I'm weary and lonley and sad,
That sort of grips hold of my crusty old heart
And bids it be marry and glad.
It gets in my soul and it drives out the blues,
And finally thrills through and through.
It is just a sweet memory that chants the refrain:
"I'm glad I touch shoulders with you!"

Did you know you were brave, did you know you were strong?
Did you know there was one leaning hard?
Did you know that I waited and listened and prayed,
And was cheered by your simplest word?
Did you know that I longed for that smile on your face,
For the sound of your voice ringing true?
Did you know I grew stronger and better because
I had merely touched shoulders with you?

I am glad that I live, that I battle and strive
For that place that I know I must fill;
I am thankful for sorrows, I'll meet with a grin
What fortune may send, good or ill.
I may not have wealth, I may not be great,
But I know I shall always be true,
For I have in my life that courage you gave
When once I rubbed shoulders with you.