A Great American Day and More!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Wow and the fun never stops here.  Yesterday was an unbelievable day as we celebrated the 4th here at camp.  It was such a full day we had little time to catch you on all the details of our “Great American Day”.  We started off with a wake up by Paul Revere riding through camp telling us the British were coming.  At eight our downtown GV was filled with famous patriotic tunes until our own Statue of Liberty welcomed all the immigrants from our many international destinations here at GV.  Miss Liberty stood on our lake shore as most of our international staff made their way past her raised torch to our fair land.  Each international had their country flag draped over their backs.  After they all came ashore Miss Liberty read from her own inscription, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” It was a fitting occasion as we at camp all know the importance of acceptance, which is one of our values.

From there it was on to breakfast and then out on the Green for our traditional “4th” dance party.  It was a good way to get the blood flowing and celebrate some great American tunes.  From there it was on to our morning Discovery’s.  After lunch there was singing in the Lodge and a pie eating contest for counselors.  Everyone cheered for their counselor and out of nowhere a renegade Mountainside counselor impersonating George Washington took the prize.  After sign-ups in the afternoon we all met again in downtown GV and formed 2 lines to welcome some celebrities and famous people to dine with us.  We had Betsy Ross, the cast from Friends, Taylor Swift, Shirley Temple, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Uncle Sam, George Washington, John Glenn, Georgia O’keef, and many more.  Our dinner was the best beef brisket I’ve ever had.  The meal was introduced by Obama’s voice but we couldn’t figure out who or where it was coming from.  The brisket was devoured and for dessert – apple pie and whipped cream.  Near the end of the meal one table started to sing the national anthem and everyone just rose faced the flag and started to sing along.  It was totally impromptu and moving.  Campfire was a continuation of our Great American Day with an episode of American Idol which was filmed here last night.  Ryan See-Vest was our MC as we celebrated a history of Boy Bands starting with the Beach Boys, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and the Jackson 5.  There were dance performances and campers lip synching to a variety of songs.  After a full day of entertainment it was off to the cabin get ready for bed and then back to the lake for FIREWORKS!!  As you can imagine we were all pretty tuckered out at the end of the day.  I slept like a rock and know the campers did too.

Today was another excellent day here at camp and I spent the morning watching Mountainside and Main Camp at the climbing wall and then moving on to Mountain Biking taking footage of campers riding on some of our camp trails.  From there I made a whirlwind tour of the pool, horses and just a glimpse of pottery.  This afternoon I spent a short amount of time with Mountainside climbers who had gone to the rock. Everywhere I went there were teachers teaching and doing a great job.  Our staff shares a lot of information each day.  I often hear from staff that children ask a lot of questions.  This is a good thing.  Staff learn to not go too slowly and bore them with details and let them figure some things out on their own unless it has to do with safety.  Sometimes when things slow too much campers get fidgety and entertain themselves.  And then there are times when details are very important and teaching is progressive in nature.  We all learn differently and we have to throw out a big net to make sure we’re getting on everyone’s wavelength. For many years while teaching paddling, I taught using the whole-part-whole method.  Show the stroke, then break it down part by part and then show it again and talk about it and what it does to your boat.  We can sometimes get into analysis paralysis when teaching skills and I’m always adjusting my technique with each group I work with.  Teaching is a gift and at camp we’re working toward betterment of our teaching techniques and the way we impart information to children.  You know pretty quickly if you’ve perked their interest and if you have them wanting more.  It’s a good feeling when you know you’ve hit the target.

There are so many chances for human interaction and no screens.  For most, if not all children, life with screens will come soon enough.  As a soccer coach many years ago, I told my teams that soccer is a game of many touches.  You have many chances to make contact with the ball.  Camp is analogous to soccer because you have so many chances to build relationships while here.  These small steps of independence, gaining skills, confidence, resilience and even leadership grow into bigger stepping stones as we grow older.  Spending time with talented staff members rubs off on children and they emulate a lot of what is passed down.  You as parents see that every day as your children become like you in so many ways.

Some days at camp the weather and the desire to extend the day takes us to what we call Twilight Play.  We basically open a good many of the camps activities for an hour after dinner.  Some are specialty activities like the Tower Swing and others you might have a chance to do on any given day.  The weather is cool, we’re refueled from the meal (Lasagna tonight!), and everyone wants to just play.  It’s a great way to end our day and then off to zzzzland.  We will of course sleep well, wake up refreshed, start another great day at GV and repeat.  Not a bad life for a camper!  We all benefit in small and large ways each and everyday! Stay tuned!