August 5, 2013
Last night, Caroline Crawford suggested a topic for a blog. Caroline (Craw Ma’am), is our Mini Division Leader (girls just finishing K-3rd) and will become the Assistant Girls Director behind Leah Ma’am after the summer. She is a force of nature and a ball of energy.
She told me that I should write a blog about how our current campers are “reaching out” (one of the 4 Rs of Camp Champions) to the campers that arrived yesterday. We have some campers that are finishing the 3rd week of a three-week session (and a couple that are halfway through a four-week session) and we challenged them to find ways to embrace the new campers and help them feel as comfortable as possible as soon as possible.
Last night, each of the divisions made a concerted effort to “reach out” to their new cabinmates and friends in ways appropriate to their age. For example, the youngest girls gathered in a circle and the new girls shared what they are most excited about while the ‘old’ girls shared what they loved most about camp. The youngest boys taught their new cabinmates the Division role call and then had a “Rookie Stampede” or the “Running of the Rookies” – a mad sprint across a field to burn energy and bond.
The Midis (girls having finished 4th and 5th) learned each new girls name by cheering it with a greeting chant. They also shared a few Midi-specific traditions (not being a Midi, I do not know all of these!). Their counterparts on the boys’ side (the Letterman) shared what they are most excited about and learned the “Letterman Haka” – a roll call cheer that is quite impressive.
The oldest girls (the Maxis – those just finishing 6th -8th) spent an hour of the Girls Gazebo enjoying some GTT (Girl Talk Time). If you have spent much time with 12-14 year-old girls, you know there was plenty covered here and I lack the time to share it all.
The Aquanauts (the oldest boys) bonded around learning the nightly rituals and their roll call. They also spent time chatting on the boys’ gazebo. They talked less than the gals, but they bonded nonetheless.
During the first Torchlight ceremonies, we asked the first-timers to stand so that we could acknowledge them and celebrate them. We also told them that everyone was a first-timer at some point and that we all found the traditions and songs initially confusing.
Today, Susie Ma’am and I invited the new campers into the house for “cookies and questions”. They got some milk and cookies and half an hour to ask any question that came to mind. We know that new campers often think they are the only ones with these questions, so they love a safe environment to ask any and all questions that they might have.
One camper explained that she had an allergy that prevented her from eating cookies. Susie Ma’am then asked, “Does anyone else have an allergy to cookies or milk?”
“I’m allergic to penicillin.”
We explained that the cookies were not that old yet.
After the cookies, we escorted the new campers to Town Hall (one of our meeting spaces) for Trojan-Spartan Initiation. Every camper at camp becomes a member of either the Trojans or the Spartans for our “Trojan-Spartan Games”, which will happen this Wednesday.
Once every camper “learned his or her destiny”, we had one final welcome for them – explaining that they are now “true Champions campers”.
I am not sure who has benefited the most from all of this reaching out. Clearly, the new campers have felt more comfortable with camp. But I think that the old campers might have benefited just as much. There is something deeply satisfying about doing acts of kindness and helping other people. By welcoming and orienting new cabinmates, these campers have had a chance to do that very thing.
My Division Leaders reported that we had virtually no homesickness the first night, so I guess everyone’s efforts paid off. I cannot wait for the rest of the term.