July 18, 2017
When I was a camper and a counselor (before the Earth cooled), my favorite part of camp was cabin time and hanging out with my friends. Sure, I loved the activities, but I loved the people I did them with even more.
When I decided to become a camp professional, I looked forward to having tons of hang out time.
I was apparently delusional. Counselors hang out with campers, directors generally do not. Instead, directors spend time addressing challenges and concerns. We know about every homesick camper and every cabin dispute, but we are not around when campers swap jokes, play cards or experience triumphs.
With this in mind, Susie Ma’am had a great idea about 8 years ago: Friendship Games (for girls) and Man Cave (for boys). In each, we host a cabin of campers in our home for an hour. We sit on the floor together and enjoy treats that are otherwise unavailable: slushees, Oreos and Doritos. A parent once asked me if we were “stacking the deck” with indulgent snacks to assure that the campers will enjoy spending time with us.
OK, perhaps they would enjoy the fellowship and conversation just as much without the snacks, but what middle-aged camp director would want to take that risk?
In Friendship Games, Susie Ma’am has silk “fortune cookies” that she puts questions inside of. Each camper picks a cookie and reads the question, leading to a group discussion.
Occasionally, I will share a few cute quotes from her Friendship Games. Today, I will share two answers to “How old would you like to live until?”
Many girls answer “100”, but one had a clear explanation: “because Legos are good for ages 4-99”.
The most random answer? “83”. No explanation. Just 83.
A related question – “what age would you like to be permanently”? By far the best answer came from an 8 year old.
“I would want to be 30, because that is the age my daddy says I can start dating.”
For Man Cave, we use Lego sets to build models, usually of whatever the camper is most excited about. [Note: all campers in Man Cave are safely between 4 and 99 years old, so they are safely in the approved Lego age range.]
Here is a version of the Glob (the giant inflatable pillow campers jump on in the water) as created by an 8 year-old.
This is the Hearth, our new Fine Arts Center. He made this in less than 10 minutes yet manages to get a great level of detail, including the walking deck above, the reading nooks and the rock wall.
We treasure these opportunities to spend time with our campers in a relaxed and even silly atmosphere. It is almost like being a counselor all over again.