I was just out and about in Chepachet and at one of the stores I popped into the Ellen show was playing on the television above the register. I only had about a minute to watch it, but I caught Ellen introducing a new segment of the show called “Rejoice! It’s Joyce!” (see above) It has something to do with finding this woman during the show like you would Where’s Waldo. But that’s irrelevant to my story.
The quite-horrible jingle the producers created for the aptly titled “Rejoice! It’s Joyce!” segment reminded me of a post I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of months now about our very own Joyce Roberts, resident manager at ECC.
Actually, calling her resident manager doesn’t really do her any justice. She’s like the EVERYTHING-manager. And on the side she’s the Meaghan-manager. The other reason I’ve been thinking about Joyce lately is that I recently came across the following recording on my phone. It’s from the tail end of the gospel service at Jr./Sr. Conference during the announcements. I was recording the closing song and forgot to end the recording, so caught this gem. Go ahead and listen:
Did you catch what happened there? In case you missed it here’s a synopsis, with a bit of back story.
First: I decided I was tired and lazy and that our rising bell was too early.
Second: I asked Joyce if we could just sleep in the next day, and she talked to the kitchen staff to arrange for a later breakfast time.
Third: I forgot that we had the conversation. (I forget everything)
Fourth: I led announcements, and right when I was about to send everyone off to bed she reminded me that I had asked her to arrange a later breakfast time. (Joyce remembers everything).
Fifth: I got to announce the late rising bell. (Side note: did you hear how happy those teenagers were? See why I love my job? They’re so easy to please!)
Sixth: The group – in their elation – started chanting “MEAGHAN! MEAGHAN! MEAGHAN!”
My friends, this is the story of what happens at ECC. I whirl in with an idea that serves my self-interests, Joyce does all the work to implement said idea, and then I get all the credit.
Now listen – this is not to say that the teenagers don’t love and appreciate Joyce. They ADORE Joyce, as they should. And they are smart enough to realize that Joyce makes our little world go round up there (with help from Lance, who I will blog about some other time). The reason for this blog post is not to convince the counselors and campers of the many wonders of Joyce Roberts. Instead it’s for the rest of you – the many wonderful folks who might not be lucky enough to spend a summer with this woman (or for those of you who don’t even KNOW her!).
Joyce stole my little heart over a decade ago when I first met her as a young adult staff person at ECC. It was this past summer, however, that I decided she was a superhero.
Here’s the thing: Joyce had a tough summer. And I don’t mean garden-variety tough. I mean “once in your whole life you have a summer this tough” tough. She started the summer with personal news that rocked her. Then one of her llamas got sick – something that is no small thing for Joyce. She loves her animals deeply. And then one weekend when I was holding my breath afraid that Joyce’s llama was going to die – her mother died. Elaine’s death was sudden and unexpected, and it stunned us. The llama – Nina – died a few weeks later.
We were two weeks into a summer that was offering us a host of challenges. The heat was brutal, almost everything at camp broke, and I had made some administrative changes that required lots of new systems that hadn’t yet been created. Extenuating circumstances aside it would have been a “garden-variety” tough summer. But add a daily care for a large animal, an unexpected funeral, and some significant grief and.. well.. it was hard.
I would have understood if Joyce had pulled the covers over her head and not come out of bed for the rest of the summer. She didn’t, of course. She just kept right on going – making the camp run, keeping me straight, and loving the community surrounding her.
Everyone that worked or volunteered at camp this summer was a rock star. Truly. It’s amazing to be a part of the energy and love that goes into a summer at ECC. But I couldn’t let the season sail off into the sunset without a shout out to Joyce, who positively rose above all of the challenges in her midst and did everything she could to make it an incredible summer.
If I could write music, I’d come up with a better jingle for Joyce. Since I’m not, I’m going to borrow from someone who offers me tremendous wisdom and spiritual guidance: Kelly Clarkson. This is my jingle for Joyce (the chorus really… the verses don’t so much make sense):
Thanks to Ellen and Kelly for helping me capture how we all feel about this woman.
Rejoice – it’s Joyce!