Dear Parents & Friends,
We had another beautiful morning here again today and by midday, the sun was rather toasty. Today we celebrated our last international day of the summer focused on France, Russia and Israel. Our Mountainside and Riverside groups are into their second night of being out of camp. We heard from several of them and everyone is doing fine. It’s been scattered showers for several groups but not to the point of impossible by any means. I will be going out with the paddlers to the Tuck tomorrow. Paddlers usually get wet and stay wet so it doesn’t matter. When you’re surrounded by moving water all day a little rain doesn’t faze you. Even on paddling trips, we make sure campers are wearing paddling jackets and staying warm. It’s just part of taking care of oneself and others in those conditions.
Today was the second day of Discovery or B day and campers were trying out activities for the first time this morning. I went to the climbing tower this morning to shoot some drone footage of those little spiders moving up the wall. I also visited with the mountain bikers as they made their way around camp. The climbers and bikers were learning knots to knobby tires. Zach had a course set up on the Green to help with shifting, braking all while pedaling. Most of our campers probably don’t spend a lot of time on a bike so riding in areas with the uneven ground can be challenging. Climbers will test themselves on our trees tomorrow and scale some of our Hemlocks just next to the lake.
Going to the Mill is like stepping back in time because the Mill was built in 1890. That’s a long time ago and trying to relate what life was like then and how it’s changed from our Mill of today. It was I’m sure a community Mill where folks brought their grain to be ground, catch up with the local news and pass some time with friends. You might even engage one another in a friendly game of checkers which we still do today. While at the Mill there are many implements and artifacts from that era including corn husk dolls and toys made from corn cobs. It was a simple life. Besides learning about grinding corn from our corn crib, there was also a group outside fishing from the small pond below the waterwheel. The campers inside the Mill learned about the dried corn they would be grinding, how to take it off the cob and then how to “process” it after it had been ground up. It is many stepped process that they go through to reach the final products of cornmeal, grits, and chicken feed which goes back to the farm. We consume all the cornmeal and grits here at camp. We learned about the weevils and the moths that live by eating the dried corn and how to get rid of those. Of course, the Mill puts on a different face when it offers “corn cob creations” which it will later this week.
While near the Mill this morning I visited the weavers up in Shady Grove. We have 11 floor looms that campers can create intricate patterns on. They use a combination of their own designs and also the levers and foot pedals of the loom to design their pieces. It’s a methodical pace that takes patience and focus and the final product is very nice. Another craft that harkens back to simpler times is taking a dried gourd that’s grown at camp and clean it up, paint it, cut it out, sew things into its thick skin and create a piece of art or perhaps a vessel to hold life’s treasures. The gourds dry out in an old barn through the winter and each has a distinct knack for patterns of mold and mildew that once scrubbed off, revealing a nice skin that is easily decorated. The first phase of cleaning the gourd is the hardest. You get it down in the creek next to the Mill and scrub with all kinds of brushes and pads to get down to the nice layer. From there it’s up to you to design it with your own purpose and ways to enhance its natural beauty.
Working with your hands and learning handicrafts is very satisfying. It might come in the form of building your first fire or creating a piece of tapestry on the loom. We live in such a mechanical world and technology surrounds us. It’s nice to involve ourselves in activities that are “human-powered” with simpler approaches to an end result.
Camp gets children outside for most of their day. While our buildings have walls many are open to the fresh air and sounds and sights of nature. Playing and learning outdoors increases ones appetite for curiosity. Walking upstream in a creek to discover the small animals that live there can set in motion questions and imagining that can lead to lots of personal discovery. It also helps us to not fear the unknown and creates wonder and awe and sense of place in our ecosystem.
Camp helps children feel in control of their lives. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem solvers in new situations long after their laundry is cleaned and the smells of the campfire forgotten. The goal here is to encourage a child’s sense of self, their perception that they have some say over daily activities at a camp. They learn to fix problems when they happen. They learn to self-advocate. They learn that their world is manageable with some help. Camp is simply a great place for children to take a good bite out of growing up, but not too fast. Stay tuned!
PS – Parents, there will be maintenance on the Campminder website tonight, August 7th, from 11:30 pm to 2:00 am Eastern Time.