July 20, 2016
One of my favorite camp activities is Friendship Games/Man Cave.
Friendship Games and Man Cave is the way that Susie Ma’am and I can spend time with every cabin at camp.
As a camper, my favorite part of camp was cabin time. I loved sharing stories, playing cards and hanging out with friends.
When I decided to become a full-time camp person, I pictured hours of hangout time. I did not know that being a camp director is like being the school principal – if you are not careful, virtually all of your time is spent dealing with challenges and crises.
So we end up knowing every camper that is homesick or that is having arguments, but we do not end up playing cards or swapping stories.
Enter Friendship Games and Man Cave.
We invite every cabin (Susie Ma’am with the girls, me with the boys) to the house where we sit in a circle, have treats and talk. We talk about camp, share stories and laugh together.
The picture shows the mountain of Doritoes we have in our home. These are part of these gatherings, along with Oreos and Slushees.
I once had a parent ask if we offered these unhealthy treats so that the campers would think that two middle-aged camp directors are cool.
Of course we do. We want to use every arrow in our quiver to connect with our campers. What we lack in youth, we make up in wisdom and empty calories. [Note: we strive to offer healthy food at camp, so when we do have food that is fun - but less healthy - it becomes a treat.]
Susie Ma’am got a little overly excited about Doritos herself earlier this week. After missing breakfast, she indulged in chips, seeking out the ones with the most seasoning. She ended up having a mild allergic reaction to the chips. To my knowledge, she is the only person with a chip-related workforce illness.
Here are a few excerpts from Man Cave and Friendship Games.
One group of 9 year-old girls were discussing the “girl code” of never talking about what you like about yourself. Typically, it is socially OK to be self-critical, but self-praise is scorned. One of the cabins addressed this by having girls share what they like about each other. The rules were that they needed to be specific. It sparked a conversation about ways they can embrace their best selves all the time.
I asked a group of 13 year-old boys to tell me about what a “functional cabin is like”. One compared it to a wall made of Legos. Each piece is a different color and a different shape. Separately, they are chaotic, but together that fit. The whole is strong and solid.
On a sillier note, occasionally Susie Ma’am will ask the campers “what counselor would you like to see as an 8 year old?” Apparently, the answer that inevitably creates peals of laughter is “Steve Sir”. The girls will start to mimic some of my mannerisms using a child’s voice and then explode in giggles.
I am unsure what to do with this information, but I suspect it is not completely complimentary.
With the first week half over, let me conclude by saying that we continue to have a great time at camp – with excellent counselors and even better campers!