International Day and the Sunny Side of Camp!

Dear Parents & Friends,

“Another day of opportunity at camp” theme fits right into our European Day here at GV.  It was International Day here at camp celebrating Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine.  The whole day was mixed with good food, visits by reigning monarchy on horseback and a wonderful evening campfire that included many campers dancing, singing and being in skits.  Our international staff did a great job giving us a first-hand look at so many aspects of their country which lasted all day long.

Every Tuesday is International Day here at Camp so we get to know a lot about the countries that many of our staff and children come from over the summer.  It’s a great way to learn about a country’s customs, food, songs, stories and general facts.  I think it’s also a great addition to our program to have someone in your cabin who may speak a different language or doesn’t come from our country.  Camp is the kind of place that brings people together.  It’s an even playing field for campers and staff alike.  Our staff grow very close after working together for over 10 weeks.  Campers do the same and some camp friends stay friends the rest of their lives.

Campers were on their B Day of Discovery this morning and taking two brand new activities.  I wonder how many folks were trying out things they have never done before. Our cool morning turned into another hot day.  I went up to mountainside to help with a little woodworking project and was soaked through even while working in the shade.  Our waterfront program has been a great place to be the last couple of days and everyone has been enjoying kayaking, swimming, and SUP boarding on the lake.  This afternoon brought a good size thunder/rain storm and kept us in the Lodge until about 3:30.  Rest hour was quite active in the Lodge and everyone was ready to get out and play.  We rely on our Thor Guard lightening detector which provides a camp wide alarm when it’s not safe to be outside.  When it clears we are safe to re-enter into activities.

I went up and joined the Chipmunks while they tie-dyed their T shirts late this afternoon.  On the way back I heard they were making peach ice cream at the Mill and got there about the time that it was unveiled by our Miller, Cathy.  I only tried a little, but it was delicious.  I’m sure some of it will be saved for the upcoming Tajar Ball.  After a spoon or two of ice cream I hoofed it up to Pioneer 1 where Gus was teaching the campers how to make Dough Boys or dough wrapped around a stick.  Part of recipe is selecting the proper stick – not too small and not too large.  Gus brought all the raw ingredients and in several quick minutes everyone was standing around the fire roasting their soon to be doughy delicacies.  I think I see a theme coming here.  Go to all the activities that serve food!  I certainly did that on top of all the good food we had for international day.

While we were in the Lodge today I noticed that many of the children began to play games and entertain themselves.  No screens, no counselors leading or telling them what to do.  We call this unstructured free play.  Author and clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison writes, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. It is through unstructured, open-ended creative play that children learn the ways of the world. While playing outside, children explore with all their senses, they witness new life, they create imaginary worlds and they negotiate with each other to create a playful environment.”

Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning. Children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way while outdoors. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher taught about how plants get their nutrients. Our Nature and Camping Skills program takes children right to the source of our natural world where you can’t always go in a classroom setting.  Gus is excellent in leading a group through the woods where there’s something around every corner.  For children it’s mysterious, exciting and little scary when  turning over rocks and rotten logs to see what you might find.  I know what you’re thinking parents, what might you find in that case?  Good question and yes, we keep everyone at a safe and healthy distance until we know there are no surprises under those elements of the natural world.  Children are naturally inquisitive and are always wanting to know about identifying snakes and lizards.  We do our best in describing what to look for in a poisonous snake and the types that live in our mountains.  What a teachable moment and that happens all the time at camp.

Even with our rain and thunder today the sun came out after our time in the Lodge.  We learn to respect weather, its power and we take it seriously.  We’re happy as long as it’s not lightening or thundering.  We’ve been fortunate to have very little the last few days.  Stay tuned for more of the sunny side of camp!