The Song of Camp!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Another warm and beautiful day here at GV.  The mornings are wonderful and by 10 it really starts to heat up.  Mountainside started their mini adventures today and everyone was divided into 4 groups to try out each adventure component; biking, climbing, paddling and pioneering.  They will be participating in “minis” for the next 3 days.

First time alternate day Discoveries started today for those who are now getting to participate in their next two activities for the morning.  I went to Horseback riding and watched several young people who had never ridden a horse without assistance.  They learned a good bit from mounting the GV ponies to turning and how to stop.  No rear endings in our ring please drivers.  From there it was down to the farm, where one enters the corn patch to pick ears that were shucked at lunch and eaten at dinner tonight.  I know of no grocery store where the produce is that fresh.

Even on the first day of pottery you can see wonderful things beginning to take shape.  Skills are being taught and campers are being shaped by staff to culminate in some wonderful experiences in Discovery mornings.  Some are working in artistic endeavors while others are working toward building sports or swimming skills.  Others are anticipating a trip off camp to a distance waterfall, climbing site or flowy single track biking trail.  Whatever your interests we are all making friends and living where everyone is an important member of the camp community, cabin, activity group and table group.  So many chances for human interaction and no screens.  For most, if not all children, life with screens  will come soon enough.  As a soccer coach many years ago, I told my teams that soccer is a game of many touches.  You have many chances to make contact with the ball.  Camp is analogous to soccer because you have so many chances to build relationships while here.  These small steps of independence, gaining skills, confidence, resilience and even leadership grow into bigger stepping stones as we grow older.  Spending time with talented staff members rubs off on children and they emulate a lot of what is passed down.  You as parents see that every day as your children become like you in so many ways.

I love seeing campers experience newness like this afternoon at the Mill, where the campers caught fish from the mill pond and then learned to clean and yes, gut the fish to prepare them for cooking.  After just enough cooking over an open fire, they took the meat off the bones and mixed in cornmeal from the mill and made fishcakes and again back to the large fry pan over the fire.  Needless to say everyone ate what they had prepared and were so proud that they caught, cleaned and prepared this dish themselves over an open fire.  Our mill was built in 1890 and I think today’s activity was a frequent occurrence at that site many years ago.  It’s good to be able to walk back in history and enjoy the simple joys of preparing and sharing food as a team.

We can talk about the benefits of a good camp experience all day or even what are your favorite activities.  What it boils down to is what we call the “song of camp”.  This is hearing a healthy, positive, quality camp experience; one of  laughter, the chatter of voices, questions being ask and answered and words like I heard today, “I would have never guessed I would be doing anything like this”.  “I can verses I can’t” is music to my ears.  And then,  very often, you’ll hear a song — individual voices coming together to make a song of one,  see a group that is bonding and really enjoying being together.  This happens quickly and easily on Mountainside and Riverside.  These small groups really learn about one another, ones strengths and weaknesses.  It can also be a conversation at the table over simple subjects like your favorite book you’ve read recently or your favorite Disney movie.  Even our Riversider’s are heard singing Disney movie songs.  Or more serious ones like why I’m a vegetarian (I had two at my table last session).  Children want to know things and they are naturally inquisitive.  I think our outdoor environment heightens their awareness of what’s around them and it raises their levels of recognizing awareness.  Playing outdoors simply makes children smarter.  When you play outside you open up more of your senses, you witness more of budding life around you, you create more imaginary worlds and you negotiate with each other to create a more playful environment.  And… Outdoor play is fun. Children who are happy are successful learners and good leaders for the future. Children are naturally happy when they are moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing.  Wish you were here to see it happen in the GV environment.  Stay tuned!