Last Dance of Summer
September is a bittersweet time of the year; the brightness of the summer is fading, but at the same time there is an expectation of the beautiful fall season still to come.
September is a time of change, and not just a seasonal one. Suddenly the intensity of the summer beach crowd is gone, and a somewhat more relaxed and, at the same time, more grown-up feeling permeates our little ocean resort.
Somehow Labor Day weekend is the magic doorway of change. We start the holiday in the full peak of the summer season, and end it with a last dance and an acceptance that time has passed and we are entering a new phase.
September is a good time for introspection, and I often find myself to be more reflective at this time of the year.
This Labor Day weekend we completed the 23rd Sundance; that event, more than any other, has shaped my life and the way I view the fleeting magic of this transitory season. As I worked my way through this year’s Sundance weekend, I was acutely aware of the people around me—the staff, the volunteers, the tech crews, the dancers, the people at the auction. Many of them have been a part of Sundance for years; others were “Sundance virgins” as my décor team likes to call them. All of them felt like family.
Perhaps that’s what makes our little community special: the families we have created over the years.
Years ago, when we first started coming to Rehoboth Beach, Steve and I lived in Washington DC and Rehoboth was the nearest beach. In later years, we moved to New York, but still could not break our Rehoboth connection. This was home long before we fully understood that fact. I suspect that the same thing is true for many others, and that we have all been drawn here because this place connects us to people up and down the east coast.
During the last decade Rehoboth has increasing been called a great place to retire, but it is much more than that. This summer’s new wave of young people has re-energized the town and reminded us that a healthy community—especially an LGBT one—must be multi-generational. Even with the increasing number of gay men and women having or adopting children, most of us are childless. I suppose that’s where our enemies get the absurd idea that we recruit young people to the ranks of being gay. In fact, of course, we are simply providing a welcoming home to people in the process of discovering who they are.
The thing about a family is that it requires us to love one another even as we struggle through the ups and downs of life. I realized recently that some of the most important friends I have are the ones I’ve argued with the most over the years. I love it that we are surrounded by passionate people, but that passion can also be stressful, and at times difficult to manage. It can also challenge us and keep us from getting so set in our ways we are no longer able to change.
I’m the oldest in a family of four children. None of us ever doubted that we loved one another, but we would sometimes fight like crazy when we were kids. Unless someone else attacked us! Then we were as solid as a brick wall. My guess is that’s normal for most healthy families—and it also hold’s true for extended families like the ones all of us have in this town.
Looking back on the summer of 2010, I feel both continuity with the past and a refreshing sense that life is changing. Here at CAMP Rehoboth, the Development Advisory Board, the Board of Directors, and the Long Range Planning Committee are all working to create a vision that will carry us into a new decade and ensure that CAMP Rehoboth will continue to be a part of our community long after this generation has gone. This work is not always easy, and we may argue like children before it is done, but in the long run that is what will help this organization the most.
Every summer here in Rehoboth Beach has its own character, its own flavor; at the same time there is a timeless quality about the summer that connects us to the past and offers a promise of summers to come.
As the last dancers exit the Convention Center as Sundance ends, my internal clock feels the change. The next morning when we return to face the task of breaking down Sundance, I am different—another summer season has come and gone and we are left with memories that in time will grow as sweet and golden as all the others.
I’ve often said that the details of a summer season don’t really matter that much. If the last weeks of summer are good ones, that’s what we remember. What I will never forget is this great big generous community we call our Rehoboth family. In my mind we will always be dancing together in the summertime sun.
Thank you to everyone who worked to make this 20th Anniversary summer a special one for CAMP Rehoboth and for our community.
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.