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      GATEWAYS by Thomas Putnam

      4thJuly21We're holding camp at the Tioga County Fairgrounds in a few weeks and it seemed appropriate to the venue to celebrate our county's history. HG's theme this year is TOGETHER IN 21 and since we typically have campers from all over the county, both the location and the camp focus begged for a them of togetherness, unity, harmony, connection.

      Our history has not always been such. The two main groups of newcomers back in the late 1700's were from either New England or Philadelphia. There was some pretty serious rivalry between the two groups of settlers. I'm not sure what the relationship with those who lived here before that, the Native Americans, was but I'm thinking that in typical early American history the newcomers felt entitled and pushed out the natives. There were land disputes and disputes over where the county seat should be.

      Unfortunately there still exists to some degree a lack of togetherness, unity, harmony, and connection. There's nothing wrong, of course, with a strong sense of home and belonging and loyalty to one's community, but we could experience so much more in our county if we perhaps identified as from Tioga rather than simply from one of the many communities in the county.

      Our program at camp is going to focus on ways that “together in '21” spirit could be nurtured. The simple fact that the camp is being held on the TIOGA COUNTY fairgrounds helps to break down some barriers. The fact that campers come from all over the county itself welcomes connection and harmony.

      The Native American word “tioga” means “gateways.” I've always believed and lived in that belief that theatre arts and music are gateways to connection. I'm looking forward to a wonderful camp as the gaetways are opened to new and meaninful opportunities.

      [Join us for the camp production on July 29 at either 3:00 or 6:30 at the fairgrounds.]

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