July 31, 2018
Susie Ma’am and I have completed our cabin meetings for this summer.
Every year, Susie Ma’am and I meet with each cabin individually for an hour of snacks and sharing. The girls do “Friendship Games” with Susie Ma’am while the boys join me for “Man Cave”.
In Man Cave, I generally ask the boys to build something with Legos that relates to camp. If the campers are younger, they will build of model of whatever they like the most at camp – generally an activity like water toys or the Pirate Ship. The older guys will do something deeper, like a model of how the ideal cabin will interact with each other. [Note: you might think that the 13 or 14 year olds would be too sophisticated for Legos, I know I did. It turns out that they have just as much fun as the other campers. Building the models gives them a chance to think about what they value and enables them to come up with rich answers. I am no longer surprised to have a 13 year-old declare that the best cabin is the one “that helps me know when I am wrong while still accepting me” or “that finds something to laugh at even when we lose”.]
In Friendship games, Susie Ma’am gets campers to randomly pair up and find some unusual commonality between them. For example, they might discover that they both have the same middle name or that they have 2 cats and one dog. She also asks them questions that generate thoughtful conversation, like “who should play you in a movie about your life?” or “what invention would you like to create to make the world better?”
The Man Caves also have the added benefit if being one of the few times campers can get “fun food” (translation: food that campers love but parents do not ). Campers get a slushy, Oreos and Doritos. We strive to make our food options in the Fillin Station (dining hall) and treat time to be tasteful and healthy, but the food options at these gatherings are indulgences.
If you suspect that we only offer junk food during these meetings so that the campers will think that the middle-aged camp directors are cool, you might be partially correct. We want to have some time with every camper that is simply fun and full of joy. Camp directors can be like school principals – most interactions with children involve problems.
Man Cave and Friendship Games are a chance for us to enjoy the smiles and laughter of your wonderful children.
So we have completed our sessions for the summer. I estimate that we have served over 1500 slushies, 100 bags of Doritos and 110 packets of Oreos.
But far more importantly, we have shared some deep thoughts and enjoyed some silly conversations. For example, I explained to the campers that I love tigers. One camper asked why not buy a tiger.
“After some thought, Susie Ma’am and I decided that it would be a bad idea to have a 600 pound tiger at a camp full of children.” [Note: I hope you find our judgment reassuring.]
“What about a small tiger?” They asked.
“How could that happen?” I wondered.
“Maybe I could become a scientist and make a pygmy tiger,” suggested one camper.
“No. That would not work. You need to get a real tiger and use a shrink gun,“ offered another.
“I love that idea,” I added. “But where do you get a shrink gun?”
“Are you expecting me to find ALL the answers?”
OK, so I sit now without a small tiger, but I do have a large bundle of memories. It is easy to find what is special about every camper in these gatherings. I wish you could join us in them. You would be delighted too.