July 7, 2016
Today, the boys and girls have very different evening activities. On the boys’ side, we have a wide variety of plans for the different age groups.
The youngest boys (the Rookies – campers finishing 1st-3rd grade) will have fishing night. To be honest, this is not an exercise in expert angling. Instead, it is a chance to just slow down and be present with each other. One of the charms of fishing is its lack of action and “stimulating” input. It is effectively the anti-video game. Nothing really happens, yet you find yourself enjoying the breeze while shooting the breeze. If you happen to be among the lucky few that bring up a fish, you get a little extra excitement, but that is not really the point.
We want our campers to have time when they are comfortable with each other with no deadlines, no goals, no stresses and time to be with friends and their thoughts.
The oldest boy campers (those who just finished 6th-8th grades called the Aqaunauts) will also fish and then enjoy “Aquanight”. This includes getting burgers, playing sports under the lights and hanging out a little extra late. [Note: I know the question you are thinking. The answer is “No, I have no idea what an “Aquanaut “is or where the name came from. It has baffled me for 21 years and remains a complete mystery to us all.”
The Lettermen (the 4th and 5th graders) are on their overnight and all that entails – cooking their own meals, telling stories, and sleeping under the stars. We used to also do a rope burn where they build a fire (safely) tall enough to burn a string that is 4 feet off the ground. The rope burn was such a hit that we decided to make it a separate surprise activity. Each Letterman cabin will have one night that they go out after torchlight and do a rope burn. This gathering includes a time when they sit in a circle and talk about the kind of men that they hope to be someday. You would be delighted to here the words that they use. Rather than “rich, powerful or famous”, they say “honest, caring, and committed”. They then paint their faces and burn the rope. [Note: I feel sure that the face painting is awash in symbolism and meaning. I simply do not know what they are. I just love the idea of them enjoying their adventure.]
Please allow me a short interruption to this blog for a camp geek moment. Last Saturday, I posted a blog about “disruptive moments” – experiences that are so unusual that they will have extra impact. We strive to couple these moments with validating messages that help the campers feel more capable, resilient and confident. The rope burn and the overnight are both examples of “disruptive moments”. Every cabin will do an overnight and have at least one additional evening disruptive moment. For the younger campers, it is a hayride to the back property of camp. The older campers have solo walks and team building in the dark. In each case, we are always mindful of the potential for these moments to be particularly powerful and spend time talking afterwards sharing validating and helpful messages.
Back to our blog.
OK, you might have noticed that I have talked about the boys’ side, but said nothing about the girls’ side. They are enjoying one other favorite events for the girls – Ms Champini. Basically, the campers dress-up their counselors in costumes inspired by items/people at camp. We have seen counselors dressed as Dodger, archery targets, climbing walls, Luna the mermaid, the Summit, etc. The counselor then gets an opportunity to answer questions and share a “talent”. Let me assure you that the term “talent” is used with extreme generosity.
Basically, it is an exercise in creativity and silliness. If you want me to get camp-geeky, I could talk about the communication and collaboration skills that they campers hone as they endeavor to transform their counselors. But in a rare moment of restraint, I will just revel in their fun.
The accompanying picture shows the competitors for tonight. They are (from left to right) a spider, a drama queen, Lola (Leah’s new baby), three different breakfast items (Raisin Bran, strawberry cream cheese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch), the Torch, Dock Girl, toast (paired with “French” further down the line), a turtle, a squirrel, a toaster, Gold Bond, French (as promised), a laundry bag and a water monster.
I really like this picture. I like it not just because it is silly and colorful, but it shows how happy they are to become palettes for campers to paint and decorate. “Painting up” is a love language at camp. In this picture, you can see a lot of counselors that adore their campers.