Camp Is All About the Simple Joys!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our day started much like the past few days with a cool morning followed by a warm but beautiful day with a breeze blowing  all day long.  Thank goodness for the breeze.  It wasn’t quite as hot as it has been, but it was warm.  The next two days look good for about anything with some possible showers to cool things off.  As we finished campfire this evening it began to sprinkle and felt so good.  Brookside joined us in the Lodge tonight to do some ole fashioned Mountain Dancing.  Debbie played the 88’s and I called most of the dances.  We started off with a couple of folk dances – one from Russia called “Sasha” and the other, a Jewish folk dance called the “Hora”.  Both were fun and it didn’t take the campers long to catch on.   We danced to “Going to Kentucky, Paddie Cake Polka, and the Virginia Reel”. On the last dance Jordan, our Brookside head counselor led everyone out of the Lodge into the coolness of the evening on the Green.  It was a nice way to end the evening as Debbie played “Sheep May Safely Graze” which has been played at the end of every campfire for many, many years.  It’s a long tradition here at camp and for those that stay for our closing day campfire Debbie will play it after the staff song at the end of that campfire.

Tree climbing was a great place to be this morning as the temperature went up.  Under our hemlocks next to the lake is always a cool and refreshing place to learn the “ropes” as well have fun and check out the great views from the top of our trees.  We started tree climbing the year we took over camp and it has been a hit since then.  It’s very different from climbing a wall or even a rock.  Works off the same principles of rock climbing so all safety protocols and equipment are the same.  The climber starts on a rope ladder and about 15 feet up begins to use the many branches that the Hemlock affords. As you may or may not know most of our Hemlocks in the southeast are dying because of an insect called the Wooly Adelgid.  They have wrought havoc on the trees and we’re doing what we can to treat many of ours in camp proper.  So far so good and think we’ll be able to keep the ones that are important to inner camp (about 40 + trees).

I checked in on “linoleum cuts” this morning as they were working on their projects.  It’s takes a lot of patience, focus and time to make the cut outs for the final prints that will be created.  Across the way from our Yanderside craft area the Mill was deboning the fish that they caught yesterday and we’ll have lots of fish for a meal or part of a meal soon.  This afternoon the Mill made ice cream and I don’t even know what flavor it was.  There’s always a line to sign up for ice cream.  It’s frankly a no brainer if your cabin is first to sign up.  Everyone moves to the top of list sooner or later.  Campers participating in whitewater kayaking are getting ready for a river trip next week as are those campers who are climbers in Main Camp.  Both groups will be out next week and it should prove to be a fun and challenging day as they take on different environs for their sports.  Mountain bikers will be testing themselves in Dupont State Forest that same day.

The coolest and best parts of camp for the week have centered around our water sports, being at the lake, SUP Boarding, kayaking, creek hiking, and swimming.  The “Watermat” produces the most noise in camp and each day you can tell when there’s a group on the lake using it.  There’s never a dull moment as campers run, slide, and jump off of all sides.  You can easily get a whole cabin on it without it sinking.  Several cabins have taken tubing trips as did Possum Manor today just after rest hour.  It’s a great way for a little cabin bonding.  Others will take a hike to swim at Connestee Falls or possibly hike to “The Rock” where you see for miles.  Camp life really starts in the cabin and works outward.  That’s one reason we hold what we call “Open House” in each cabin every session.  That’s when a leadership team member and an activity leader visit the cabins to meet with just the campers.  It’s a great way to ensure that your child’s experience in the cabin is a good one and to make sure that the counselors are doing a good job.  We visit with the cabin for about a half an hour and talk about a lot of things; their counselors, what they are looking forward to, favorite activities, how they are getting along and many others.  It provides good insight into their cabin life and how it’s going.

There are lots of checks and balances at camp.  We have lists, roles, check ins, meeting spots, roll calls, buddy systems, and other ways of supervision and guidance during our busy days.  The structure is never heavy, but underpins the organized chaos that camp is.  With that organized chaos should come fun, learning and many chances to build relationships throughout the camp experience.  It’s life outdoors, without screen time and the focus is on the “simple joys of childhood”.   We could all use that, so stay tuned!