Helicopters, Dancing, Tajars and Campfires!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We just finished two different campfires in two different parts of camp, so talk about multi-tasking.  I was in the Lodge with Brookside campers, Debbie and assorted counselors and called our mountain dancing evening.  We started with a warm up of Hokey Pokey, Sasha (a Russian Folk Dance), Going to Kentucky, Paddy Cake Polka and ended with a Virginia Reel and the infinite spiral to send everyone home.  Debbie’s fingers were smoking on the 88’s and everyone was sweating at various levels.  A good many cabins were off program tonight camping and cooking out.  It’s a beautiful night to do that after another dry and hot day.  We had a few thunderings but nothing ever materialized over camp.

Head Counselor Ashley was out on the Gatehouse Green (our office field that looks out to mountains) with Hillside, our youngest campers.  They assembled at the Lodge just after “After Supper Activities” and were charged with finding our campfire site by going on a short scavenger hunt.  No counselors could help and they had to solve 4 clues to get to the Green and enjoy the campfire built there and view our distant mountains.  Once there they learned about the Tajar, a mystical and magical part of camp since its beginning.  Just so you parents know, the word Tajar is pronounced like the word badger except with “T” sound.  In fact the Tajar is something like a Badger, something like a Tiger and something like a Jaguar.  Notice that I said “something like” because he is different from those animals.  The more you get to know the Tajar, the more you will find that the Tajar is a most curious animal.  And… you become more curious to learn more about him and even to the point that when you do get to know him he becomes your friend.  Anyway… the Hillsiders had some costumes that were for their counselors and they dressed each one up and then the staff had to act out more tales about the Tajar.  I wasn’t there but I heard it was priceless.  Usually when counselors dress up in costume it’s priceless!

Frankly our staff make camp.  It’s all about the kids, but the staff really make it happen.  They are probably some of the coolest young adults that your children know and the campers get to really know them.  Many of you may be wondering what to expect of your camper’s counselors.  It’s an important question as we care for your most prized possessions. We are only as good our staff.  Anne and I can be the best directors in campville, have the finest facility and program, but must have the staff to drive it all. Good camp counseling provides the same values that you expect at home.  We call this “en loco parentis” or in place of the parents.  It’s packaged a little different and has a cast of many who work each and every day with your children.  Our staff are talented, they’re fun, patient, energetic, kind, and very cool.  We’ll talk more about this later on.

There’s been a lot written about Helicopter parents and we here at camp are the perfect helicopter parents.  We call it the “Zone of Awareness”  or eyes on, ears on and engaged.  As you know supervision is key in our environment and it’s not a hovering kind of supervision but one that is a permissible invitation to discover and try new things with activities and people.  Injected in this and more are our camp values which our staff start receiving in the Spring and more intensely when staff training begins.  In the end I see that children really remember their counselors more than anything else at camp.  They may have had fund on the climbing wall but it was that staff member who talked them through the difficult section and praised their resilience for trying again.  Staff create camp memories or “Camp DNA”.  Stay tuned!