Playing Outside and Growing Inside!

Today was a great start to our regular days here in session A.  We started our Morning Discovery Activities and I was able to make it around to a good many of our first day activities.  On the athletic field campers and staff were playing the most popular game in the world – soccer or football or futbol depending on where you come from.  It was a small game with about 8 a side but none the less active.  The morning shade on the field helped to keep the energy high.  Just near the soccer field is our mountain bike shop and bike shed.  We had a full house both sessions this morning in Discovery and everyone did quite well.  We’re pleased to welcome back Christian Jackson, an outdoor educator who teaches at Appalachian State University and is also a Level 3 Mountain Bike Instructor.  He has a gift with teaching and mentoring our staff for this first session.  Each year we learn from his depth of knowledge. While he is an expert rider, it’s all about safety first and good riding technique as you learn those basic skills to build confidence.

The morning was a flurry of active learning as campers headed off to climbing, horses, farm, mill, batik, dance, archery, pottery, weaving, creek hiking, kayaking, outdoor living skills, and more! The archers managed a few bullseyes after the initial practice shots, but even those who didn’t snag a bull’s eye managed to get closer to the middle as the lesson went on. Every potter I saw had muddy hands and happy faces; they were working on making coil pots which came out well.  The very enthusiastic kayakers were working on their wet exits and forward strokes up until the last second of the lesson. Farmers split their time between harvesting veggies and meeting the newest babies on the farm (so far many baby calves, a hand full of goat kids and oodles’ of baby chicks). Farm folks also got to milk a mama goat and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Everyone was plugged into activities where they were meeting new friends and learning new skills!

Mountainside continued their mini adventures today staying on site to bike, climb, paddle, learn some pioneering skills and our newest program, earth skills.  They, of course, are trying some activities “on” to see which adventure they will choose to end their session.  It would be a hard choice for me and yet I feel that some of them have already made up their minds.  Riverside took off early this morning to begin their climbing component at Foster Falls in Tennessee.  With the hot weather, climbing near the bottom of a waterfall is a good place to be.  I’m sure they will take advantage of daily swim opportunities.

Main camp ended their evening with mountain dancing and campfire time with their cabin where something sweet and sticky got sandwiched between something soft and chocolaty.  Six cabins were on campouts tonight at various shelters on our property.  Each shelter is a three-sided hut with a wooden floor built up off the ground and a campfire circle.  Many of our campers have never camped out before so this is a way to ease them into the experience on our property.  The staff cooks dinner over an open fire and gets everyone fed and then usually the stars are out and it’s about that time to slumber off to dreamland.  I’m sure this experience stretches some of our campers, and it’s so good for building resilience and stepping outside their comfort zones.

Imagination is a big part of our lives sometimes and especially in children here at camp.  Thinking about an experience can excite us or perhaps make us a little nervous about experiences.  Our imagination is also our ability to form new ideas. The innovations, wild notions, and original concepts we dream up are thanks to us putting our imagination to work. Creativity is the process of realizing our imagination with action. It sets the processes in motion that bring a new idea to life.  Most of us think of imagination and creativity in terms of entertainment or the arts, but creative people use their resourcefulness in any situation, starting at a very young age. Pretending  and make-believe comes naturally to children, who create whole worlds in the blink of an eye. Pretending is where children first learn to engage their imagination and express their creativity.  Children who are encouraged in imaginative play, making art, or solving problems and puzzles are more likely to use this creative thinking with confidence as they grow.  In every field of work or study, imagination and creativity are assets to growth, positive change, and success. We’ve all heard the phrase, “think outside the box?” Creativity and imagination are essential to being more collaborative, open, and accepting of others. They allow us to see the big picture, learn to take initiative, and find a way to get things done when no one else can find a solution.

Near the end of the dance tonight, I could tell that many of the little ones were ready for bed.  Days are long here and we stay on the move.  There’s a lot going on, a lot of information to be processed and it’s not coming from a screen.  I think at the end of a normal day, we are all ready to curl up and catch some zzzz’s.  We play hard outside as we grow inside.  Stay tuned for more of the simple joys!