The Summer of Whipple

Here are some mealtime announcements from the past 24 hours! Justin Fribush, Spencer Leibow, Casey Dennison, Rhenard Walker-Chesser and Zack Cohen won the scavenger hunt in hiking. Evan Cook and Emily Jaffe got bullseyes in archery. Joe Gillette chipped a golf ball into a bucket. Brady Osterman, Ethan Polk-Trauman, Taylor Dennison, Nathan Long and Spencer Leibow found a frog and named it Freddie. Leadership One learned to think outside the box. The Red Bulls beat the Purple Nurples in flag football. Ethan Polk-Trauman was recognized as being ‘the toughest camper’ (as in, the person who always wants to keep playing or doing an activity, no matter what) and was available to sign autographs in the pavilion after breakfast. The world record for biggest imaginary tea party was set at Free Swim yesterday, when fifty-five campers showed up to hold invisible cups (with pinkies pointed), pass the strawberry jam, and talk about politics in British accents.

It’s 10 am and counselor Myi is teaching her famous, crazy aerobics class next door in the gym. There’s disco music playing and the tent girls are yelling out with the moves they’re doing. Myi’s class has become well known because it’s run like boot camp (lite), with Myi hollering and getting everyone siked up. It’s mostly the older girls who take the class, and they love it. I just went over and peeked at them and am pretty amazed that they have so much energy at 10 in the morning.

It was a full activity day yesterday. I joined  Jacqui and Jane’s writing class and got to interview Olivia Seltzer with ten questions I made up myself. It was cool learning about Olivia. She said that if she could be anything or anyone other than who she was she would be a tree. Also in the class were Olivia Winston, Carolyn Harvey, my niece Emily VanDerSluys, Casey Harvey,  Merce Soler Vilanova, Torie Seltzer, and Maria Nupponen Camprecios. Knitties, which is growing fast (!), welcomed its first male knitter, Nathan Long. The Knitties are turning out to be very dedicated, and taking their knitting with them to do throughout the day.

In the afternoon I saw some of the tent campers walk, one by one, to the middle of the field and flop onto their backs to look at the clouds. I sat on my hammock for awhile and did the same thing. I really like the simple conversations that people have at camp. I overheard counselor Mike Hertlein say that he always calls dogs ‘puppies’ and cats ‘kitties’. That is pretty typical of the kinds of talks people have here. It’s pretty hard to picture from somewhere else, I think, just how simple it is.

It was cabin night last night. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a really mellow night on which each cabin gets to choose something to do on their own. In know I’m always saying this about everything but it really is one of my favorite camp nights. One group went down to the pool for the evening. A couple of groups had campfires at spots on the grounds that they picked. One cabin chose to do arts and crafts. I joined Girls’ Tent Group 1 for a spa night on the rec. hall porch. Counselors Nicole and Staci made several different bowls of face masks and foot scrubs (out of sugar, oatmeal, honey, stuff like that), made lemonade, and put on some relaxing music. We watched a movie, painted our nails, and chatted. After the younger campers went off to bed, the older campers gathered on the porch in a big knot and just joked around until their 10 o’clock curfew. We may have had our biggest early morning yoga class yet today, with almost twenty people (about half guys and half girls) showing up to welcome the day zen-style.

Something I’ve been thinking about since the second session started is how much the campers *make* camp. I know it’s a no-brainer but it’s been on my mind more than usual lately. Second session is definitely different than first session, and I’m sure third session is really different as well. Each one is great, but in it’s own distinct way. It makes me think about how so much of what camp feels like comes from who the campers are and what they are willing to share with us. For example… (Stop me if you’ve heard this before)! When I was a counselor, we had a boy named John. He was maybe eleven or twelve.  One night some of his cabin mates found out his middle name was Whipple, and started calling him that. Everywhere you went in camp that session, you could hear people calling “Whipppulllllll!” out to him when they passed him. He became this huge celebrity. He even made a guest star appearance in the Color War cheer. And he obviously loved it. My old friends from camp and I still talk about Whipple from time to time and what a cool kid he was and how we’re pretty sure he had one of the summers of his life thanks to being ‘The Whipple.’ (Hey John Whipple, if you’re out there, write me at and let me know!) Anyway, my point is, when I think about that summer the things that stand out most are people like the Whipple, and the girls I had in my cabin (I can remember them as well as if I saw them last week!), and the spontaneous, random stuff that came from people just acting like themselves.

Anyway, it’s a trip to Trout Pond today – with swimming and a cookout.

More tomorrow!