I have an aunt who is one of the most thoughtful, giving persons I know.  Let me tell you about a terrific surprise my aunt sent to me.  She sent a package to me that truly helped me through a very trying time in my life.  I was at Band Camp late in the summer.  Her own daughter had attended this same one a few years earlier.  Band Camp is a week of rigorous instruction in which performances for football half-time shows, as well as week-end competitions are learned.  It is a week of structured activity and, frankly, hard work.  It is an extremely strenuous activity, as choreography, music memorization, and fine-tuning skills are perfected.

The location of Band Camp is at a rather isolated, rural setting.  Comfort is non-existent.  The cabins in which we stayed are old, dilapidated structures which house spider-ridden, musty-smelling cots.  They are arranged side-by-side and in bunks, accommodating as many campers as possible.  Talk about living in “close quarters”.  There is no other furniture in the cabin.  Even though these living and sleeping arrangements seemed undesirable and lacked privacy, we were so exhausted after our daily routines, we quickly adapted.

Meals were shared in a cafeteria setting.  The food, although filling, consisted of high-calorie, bland-tasting fare.  Nothing was fresh; everything tasted like it came from a can…and it probably did.  We were so hungry that we really didn’t care what we ate, as long as it was filling.

The week I attended Band Camp, the weather was uncomfortably hot and humid.  Seasonal allergies prevailed as pollen counts elevated.  Being at Band Camp was both stressful and strenuous.  Practices were brutal and the pressure of living in this kind of environment, as well as the mental and physical demands, made me miss the ordinary comforts of home. 

One day, about mid-week, I was particularly frustrated.  The rigorous activity and the living conditions were getting to me.  I was hot and tired.  My muscles were sore and I was probably slightly dehydrated.  During a short rest break, my fellow campers and I heard the roar of a UPS truck coming down the lane.  “Oh great”, I said.  “Probably some more of that fattening food being delivered”, added my friend.  Imagine my surprise (and delight) when the Band Director called out my name with his megaphone to inform me that it was I who had the delivery.

As I hurriedly opened the large cardboard box, my fellow campers eagerly watched.  Inside the wrapping, I found a hand-written note from my thoughtful aunt and read it aloud to the growing crowd.  “I know you and your band-mates need to keep up your energy.  Band Camp is a time for learning and sharing; a time for loving and caring; a time to make lasting memories.  Enjoy!” 

Inside the huge box was a beautiful bushel basket brimming with a variety of delicious, fresh fruit.  Sweet and juicy peaches, plums, and nectarines were abundant.  There was an assortment of McIntosh and Granny Smith apples; Bartlett and Bosc pears; red and green seedless grapes.  Colorful oranges and tangy tangerines were also attractively placed to make an enticing arrangement.  Best of all, was a gigantic, ripe watermelon.  Sealed packages of dried cherries, banana chips, and boxes of raisins were thrown in; to be enjoyed after the fresh assortment was gone.

My aunt’s note said to share; so share, I did.  There was enough fruit for everyone to enjoy.  This basket of fresh fruit was the healthiest we had eaten all week.  We savored each nutritious bite.  It gave us the energy we needed to make it through the week.  It refreshed us enough to calm our nerves.  It gave us the nutrition we were lacking so we could focus and concentrate on what we needed to learn.

Due to my aunt’s thoughtfulness, my band-mates and I can look back at our Band Camp experience with fondness.  It was one of the more memorable highlights of the week.  Sending me the Fruit Gift Basket turned out to be the encouragement (and nourishment) I needed to see me through to the end.  It arrived at one of the more difficult times in my life and turned it into a positive experience.  In fact, it was such a great idea, I plan to send a delicious Fruit Basket to other band campers in future years.  I’m sure they will appreciate it as much as I did.