June 9, 2014
Each year, we wait 40 weeks for this place to come alive.
Without our campers, this place is not truly “camp”. It is a place – a beautiful place in fact. This place has fun stuff, including the Pirate Ship, two pools, slides, inflatables, competition boats, courts, crafts, horses and so much more.
But camp is about community and relationships. I know camp has started when I see the sparkle in the eyes of the 8 year-old first time camper when he meets his new counselor or the elation of the 15 year-old eighth year camper squeal with joy upon seeing her camp friends.
Camp is camp when we are supporting each other and loving each other.
We have had 2 full weeks of training and orientation. We have provided safety training, both physical and emotional. We taught our counselors about how they can foster growth in their campers. We focused on our mission to help ALL campers grow into the champions they are meant to be.
Susie and I have been doing this for 21 summers (wow, that seems like a long time written that way). I can say with certainty that this is the finest leadership team and counselor staff we have ever seen. This group is deeply committed to our campers and it has been amazing seeing their enthusiasm. Some people believe that this generation of young people does not care about others or work hard. While this might be the case for some, this group is a true exception.
With all this in mind, I am elated to declare that camp has started.
I loved seeing parents at Opening, but I especially loved seeing the cabins bond through the afternoon and evening. Girls played cabin singing/running games like Little Sally Walker and Ride That Pony. Boys played Ninja, had water fights and just chatted.
Every cabin went on a tour of camp. Returning campers showed new campers their favorite spots and taught the names of places. We conducted swim tests to make sure we know who might need some extra attention in the water. We passed out uniforms and learned Division Chants. We had our lice checks (good news, we only caught 7 cases this year compared to 12 first term last year – thanks to everyone who got pre-checked).
All cabins came together to write their own cabin rules. I love this exercise because it enables the campers to take responsibility for their behavior from the beginning. Campers who agree on cabin norms are more likely to live up to them and accept responsibility when they briefly transgress. It also shows the campers that we value their thoughts and ideas.
After dinner, we had our first Torchlight where we welcomed everyone to our community. We made a special effort to let our first-time campers know that everyone was a first timer once. It is OK that they do not know the songs or traditions yet (everyone learns them), but they should know that we are all excited that each one of them is here and that we value them.
Each cabin concluded the evening with its Cabin Ritual. I will write more about this on a later day, but know that is the time right before bedtime where cabinmates come together and share with each other. They talk about the best part of their day, what they might have done differently, and just share thoughts. These rituals end with the counselors saying goodnight to each camper individually.
So I write this as your camper is safe in bed and sleeping. I hope each has a wonderful night of dreams before the first full day of activities and excitement tomorrow.
P.S. With kids at camp, this is a great time to do things you often do not have time for, like a date night or a visit with friends. Please take advantage of the opportunity.