Altuse_torchlight_2_2016.jpgThe keys to the first day and a half of camp are pretty simple:

  • Make sure every camper feels loved by his or her counselor
  • Assure that everyone feels included in the cabin and in activities.
  • Facilitate campers forming friendships.
  • Finally, provide a myriad of fun and exciting activities to assure that they sleep well at night (critical to happy dispositions) and to distract them from missing home, technology and the amenities of “normal” life.


By this standard, we have had a great start.


During our first night (Sunday), each division spent 45 minutes together after dinner. A division consists of 4-6 cabins of campers. During this meeting, the Division Leaders teach the campers their division’s “roll call” (a song or chant unique to them) and then have them play a game that gets them interacting.


After that, we had our first torchlight (the picture is from last night’s torchlight). [Note: we have a camp dad that attended camp in the 1970’s. He credits camp for helping him hone his character and courage. He developed enough courage to move to Japan with no knowledge of Japanese, where he married a Japanese woman and became quite successful. He managed to horrify his Japanese in-laws when he told them that their then 7 year-old son would be flying to the Texas to attend Camp Champions. His sons are now in their 8th and 6th summers at camp. He is a part-time photographer and occasionally shares a fun photo. The Torchlight picture is one of his.]


This morning we started with Flag Raising and a morning full of activities. From waterskiing to climbing the wall to ceramics to sports to horseback – we had everything moving this morning. We offer four activities in the morning with a 15 minute fruit break (actually a “Fruit Frenzy” – we do like our alliteration at camp) in the middle of the morning.


After lunch, Susie Ma’am and I invited all the new, first-time campers into our home for cookies, milk and questions. [Note: campers with gluten or dairy allergies got alternatives.] The girls came first and then the boys.


We do this so that the new campers know that they are loved and valued. We meet literally in our family living room and we strive to show them that we are always there for them and that they can always ask any of us any question.


The questions ranged from silly to practical to mildly profound.


While they were meeting with us (girls and boys separately so that we could make it slightly more personalized), their cabinmates were having a meeting. The theme of the meeting is simple, “what can we returning campers do to assure that our new cabinmates feel included and are excited to be at camp?”


After cookies and milk, the campers rested, had inspection, went to treat time and enjoyed two more activities.


Then we went to dinner and followed that with a scavenger hunt for the campers 7-11 and a pool party for the older campers.


We then went straight to torchlight and then nightly rituals.


Camp feels good to Susie Ma’am and myself right now. The counselors are happy, encouraging and enthusiastic. The returning campers are elated to be here and their new friends are finding their camp rhythm.


I am excited to see the rest of this week!


Steve Sir


PS In case you are wondering why we are “Susie Ma’am” and “Steve Sir”, here is the explanation. One of our “4 R’s” is “respect”. So everyone at camp has a camp name which is their normal name followed by “sir” or “ma’am”. Susie Ma’am, originally from Boston, found this terribly odd at first, but she now loves this tradition because it creates a verbal reminder that everyone matters.