Playing and Learning Outdoors

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We had a cool and misty day today with some light showers but we continued to have fun at all of our activities and enjoyed gathering around the fire on the Pavilion after swimming, kayaking, and playing at the lake. 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 Discoveries or B day and campers were trying out activities for the first time this morning. I went to the climbing tower this morning and watched the campers moving up the wall. I also visited with the mountain bikers as they made their way around camp. Most of our campers probably don’t spend a lot of time on a bike so riding in areas with uneven ground can be challenging. Climbers will test themselves on our trees tomorrow and scale some of our Hemlocks just next to the lake. Campers were visiting the Farm, milling corn, doing archery, riding horses, throwing on the wheel and hand building at pottery, along with many other activities.

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, caught up with the local news, and spent 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. 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 a many stepped system that they go through to reach the final products of corn meal, grits, and chicken feed which goes back to the farm. We consume all the cornmeal and grits here at camp.

We teach and create all sorts of arts and crafts at camp so hopefully your child will bring home something they have made. 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 one’s appetite for curiosity. Walking up stream 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!