July 24, 2013
Hers was the mastermind behind Friendship Circle. I will write more about this tradition soon, so I will give a short description here. Friendship Circle is when a cabin comes to our house for a treat and one-on-one time with Susie Ma’am for an hour. In this way, she gets time with every girl. After seeing this great success, the boys’ side added Man Cave (which is the same thing with the boys cabins and me).
She decided we needed a petting zoo. Since then, many a camper has found comfort and amusement with our bunnies, pot-bellied pigs, tortoises and pygmy goats.
We added yoga this year at her recommendation. Our yoga instructor is a local friend who is studying under Baron Baptiste, one of the leading yoga masters in the world (I only mention this because Leah Ma’am said her favorite type of yoga is Baptiste’s version – I did not know there were so many options). We have averaged 40 people in these classes for most of the summer (including this grey haired, non-flexible guy) and it was a hit!
Her love of cabin unity combined with her love of sleep led to the creation of a new tradition this summer – the nightly ritual. I alluded to this in my first blog, but I think it bears a better explanation. Every night, we have a Torchlight ritual. Most nights the girls and boys are separate while a few we all are together. This is a time to celebrate our broad community. But the key unit at camp is the cabin and we love to see groups of campers come together as a cabin unit. With this in mind, we are starting Torchlight a little earlier each day and running it a little shorter so that we can have a nightly cabin ritual every evening. It is a great time to wind down, relax and bond. The rituals vary by the age of the camper. For the youngest campers (just finished 1st-3rd grade), we have a brief chat to share followed by reading to them. As the campers get older, we have them do “Delta Plus”, “Heroes” or “Gratitudes”. In “Delta Plus”, each camper lists what he or she wishes they had done differently (the delta) and the highpoint of the day (the plus). “Heroes” is a discussion of the person that you most admired that day. “Gratitudes” is a chance to share whatever that are most appreciative of. We have found that these sessions actually help the campers get more sleep because 1) they get ready for bed quicker in order to have more cabin time and 2) is settles them down on a quiet and positive note.
So, as you can see, Susie Ma’am has a lot of great ideas.
One of my favorite recent ideas is one inside our house that helps inspire me and our Leadership Team – the quote board. She placed a dry erase board right next to our utility room with 4 colors of pens. Since the start of camp, we encourage people to write their favorites quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
• I am who I am because of who we all are – Ubonti
• Be yourself because everyone else is taken - Unknown
• Luck favors the prepared – Edna Mode
• Happiness is a choice – the Silver Fox (AKA, my mother)
• Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so - a little attitude advice from Shakespeare
• The gift of camp is not what you get, but who you become – Susie Ma’am.
We have a few spaces on the quote board that are still open. If you have one that is particularly inspiring or motivating to you, please share it. We have a few camper quotes as well as counselors and Leadership. It seems to me that a proper quote board should include some insight from parents as well. We did get a few from previous sessions, but we want yours as well. If you have anything you would like to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!