July 23, 2013
I could tell you about the cookies and milk party we had in our house for the first-time campers. We are doing several things this summer to help accelerate how our new campers adjust to camp. We acknowledged them during first torchlight ceremony. We also assured them that the traditions that seem confusing now will be familiar and loved soon.
Today Susie Ma’am and I invited them to our home for a get-to-know-you gathering with questions. We wanted them to feel comfortable asking questions knowing that everyone else in the room is new as well. We got some great questions, including the following:
How do you decide what to build each year?
When will we learn if we are a Trojan or a Spartan (all campers will be initiated into one of our two teams this Saturday for our Trojan-Spartan competition)?
What is your favorite part of camp?
Why did you choose the name Camp Champions? [Note: Susie Ma’am and I explained that the camp is in its 47th year and we have only had it since 1996. Apparently, this is hard information to digest, because we got about 5 questions that suggested that we have been here since I was 1 years-old and Susie Ma’am was not yet born.]
I could tell you about Safari, our evening game. In Safari, counselors paint up as animals and your children attempt to find and capture them. Some animals are hiders and some runners. You might think that running would be harder, but one counselor managed to hide in an upside-down canoe for all 45 minutes with only a couple of cabins finding him. He said it got both boring and stuffy in there. I really encourage you to check out the photos from Safari, there are some good shots.
I could tell you about who fun it is to have so many campers happy to see each other and to see us. I had to walk on the girls’ side of the Fillin Station (dining hall – where you “fill up”) and was happily greeted at least 25 times on my way to the girls’ leadership table. Few things will cheer a day as quickly as that.
I could tell you about the massive full moon hanging over camp as “Taps” blew and the day ended. It looked just a little too large to be real. It cast dark shadows from the trees. Looking across the cove, I saw the moon caught in the ripples from swimming ducks as I heard the last voices talking before the bedtime.
But my feature point from today is the Running of the Rookies, which is also the photograph. The Rookies are our youngest campers (those having finished K-3rd grade). We call the campers to meal times by division. Most divisions wait for their call and walk happily to the Fillin Station. Not the Rookies. They advance like a charging infantry, complete with flags, cheers and fanfare.
I am not quite sure why this amuses me so. Part of it is the earnest looks on many of the Rookies’ faces. They are taking this charge very, VERY seriously. I have no idea why, but they are focused. Part of it is the fact that I have no idea why they are charging with banners. Part of it is the fact that they scream “what do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!!!” Nope – makes no sense to me either.
I think I love this because it is just camp – fun without cause. Excitement derived from energy and interaction without explanation. It also gives kids permission to be silly and different, which then helps then feel more comfortable with who they are.
Yep, it has been a good first full day.