AlladinAll I needed was a magic lamp.

Before I explain the lamp comment, I need to tell you about Friendship Circles and Man Caves.  Both Susie Ma’am and I make a point of spending a full hour with every cabin.  We learned years ago that directors are like school principals – they spend lots of time with children that are struggling and get very little carefree, hang out time with groups of kids.

But we love spending time with campers on “normal” days hearing their jokes, stories and insights. 

Our answer is to invite each cabin to our house. We give them slushies, Doritos and Oreos.  As a rule, we serve healthy snacks at Camp Champions, but Susie and I are not above cheating so that the campers look forward to the visits. 

We then talk about life and camp.  Typically, we have some activity that acts as an icebreaker.  Susie has the girls make objects using 6 foot long pipe cleaners.  I have kits from Lego Education that have a wide variety of pieces that enable the campers to build models of camp or their cabin. 

We also get to learn about their cabins and their lives at home. 

We have learned a few lessons from doing this. 

  • I think every boy has a deep and undeniable desire to operate a shushee machine.  This is a rule without a clear exception. 
  • Never get a group of girls talking about their pets.  This is a conversation without end. 
  • 8th grade boys are twice as likely to spill a slushee than a 2nd grade boy.  Nope, does not make sense to me either.
  • Once a group of 9 year-old girls start giggling loudly, you are done.  The hope is you only have a few minutes left, because order is lost.

OK, I can now explain the picture above.

As Susie Ma’am ended a Friendship Circle with the oldest girls’ cabin, she called me to the room with her.  The girls (young women) had written a song for their cabin inspection.  Girls often create elaborate presentations for their inspectors.  On the boys side, we are simply glad when the cabin no longer looks like a tornado hit.

This cabin had re-written the words to “A Whole New World” from Alladin so that it was entirely about inspection.  They invited me to take a “magic carpet ride” and demonstrate the song.  They placed a tie-dyed blanket on a stool, asked me to sit on it, and then flapped the blanket as if it were a magic carpet.

They then sang and dance.  The picture is from this presentation.

But this group was not limited to a musical performance.  Susie shared that they also had some impressive insights into life at camp.

First, they raved about being technology free for 3 weeks.  They may not admit this to parents (after all, they might not want any additional prohibition at home), but they love not worrying about text messages, Instagram and other forms of social media.  Instead of screen-to-screen time, they bask in face-to-face interactions.

One 14 year old commented about switching sessions.  She had attended a later session and came to second term for the first time this year.  Here is what she shared:

“I have been in this cabin for only 8 days.  If I met people at home 8 days ago, I would barely know them.  But camp fosters intense friendships in a way that the outside world cannot create.  Part of that is the lack of technology, but much of it is the culture of inclusion, acceptance and genuineness.  My cabinmates feel like sisters.”

Insight plus choreography and music made for an impressive combination.

Steve Sir