Hi. I know you are logging on to get the first update on your kids since they arrived, but first I have to tell you that as I’m sitting to write this, a humming bird just flew into my cabin, hovered above my bed, looked at me, and then turned and flew outside again. Whoa.
ANYWAY. The new campers arrived yesterday, all within a couple of hours of each other, on buses, in vans and in cars. I haven’t been around for the beginning of a session here since I was a teenager, and it was fun to see the kids hugging and greeting each other.You could see the new campers arriving with a bit of trepidation, and even some younger campers from last year not sure if they’d be remembered, and then sidling up to each other and hugging, and then quickly falling back into their old grooves, or starting new ones. Several kids hit the ping pong tables and the tether ball.
A big rain cloud drifted over camp shortly after everyone arrived, and a bunch of kids corralled under the pavilion to catch up, others darting back to their cabins and get settled. Ethan Weinstein came up onto the porch with me, Lynne, and Emma as we studied a bizarrely friendly lizard and Emma tried to look up what kind it was in her reptile book. Finally, I went to visit Cabin G – with Olivia Seltzer, Lexi Cohen, Lexi Smith and my niece, Emily VanDerSluys. The rain was beating on the roof but the cabin was cozy and peaceful, and the girls already seemed at home with each other again, listening to music and writing letters. I talked to their counselor, Anna, for the first time. She’s from Ireland, and teaches tennis, and is really lovely.
The counselors organized a bunch of get-to-know each other activities in the rec. hall and the gym. The kids went from one activity to the next, doing things like rhyming games and cat and mouse to break the ice. Finally, after dinner, we gathered for Activity Skits, where the counselors showcase the activities they teach in funny ways, so that campers can get a taste of what there is on offer before they sign up for their schedules. Several of the skits involved volunteers. Jasmine Whims and Jake Abel (Jakeable) joined in on a skit about acting. In one skit, a few of the counselors took the smallest boy campers and pretended to paint with them. Counselor Dean read a poem about a chocolate volcano as counselors Jacqui and Jane acted it out. We all had sundaes afterward down at the pavilion, sat on the tables and talked.
I was sitting on the office porch this morning when Ethan Weinstein came running out and yelled “Swimmies!” really loudly. The other boys looked at him for a minute, he said “Oh, I mean Dippies,” and then they ran off for the pool. It was really cute and funny. The Dippies – a club which includes anyone who wants to join – get up and jump in the pool at first bell every morning, without fail. They are not to be confused with the Sleepies who, in theory, sit up, yell “Sleepies!”, and then go back to sleep (really, they usually just sleep).
The first few days of a session are a really interesting time to watch the counselors take the lead and build a positive foundation for the campers. In these first few, especially, I think the kids get a strong message from the counselors that they are really free to be themselves with each other. For instance, today Brownie got up and made half of his morning announcement in gibberish, and then the other counselors led everyone in clapping for him. It’s one of the things that sticks out the most for me about this camp – this constant support for each other, and obviously the counselors play a huge part in setting that tone. I could already see some of the new campers this morning becoming more outgoing and excited– there’s this strong signal that whatever they have the courage to express is going to be welcomed and- a lot of times – cheered.
I think I talked about this last year…that for the kids, being around the counselors here seems to me a lot like being around an older sibling who’s always willing to play with them and give them time that they want and be really positive for and about them. Even this first morning, while everyone is busy picking their schedules in the dining hall, I’ve seen counselors and campers walking across the field having cool little talks, or getting involved in some game. I was never a camper but a lot of times I wish I had been!
Well, I said this in my first session blog, but for those of you who didn’t read it…I am open to questions to survey the campers with. If you have something you’d really like to know about camp, like “Have you ever had a hummingbird come into your cabin and stare at you?” or “What is your favorite meal?” or “What’s better, Dippies or Sleepies?” send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll take the funniest and most interesting questions and survey the campers.