Sometimes it is clear as the sun rises over the lake that it’s going to be a special day at Camp. Today was a beautiful morning and a beautiful day from start to finish. As we woke the kids up at 7:35 the air was crisp with low humidity and nary a cloud in the sky. When I arrived at the Assembly area campers of all ages ran up to me to ask “how pretty is it out today?!” I love how many of our campers notice the beauty that surrounds us here.
I always love our Camps' Visiting Day. I get to see some of my favorite people! Yesterday we were blessed with wonderful weather and even nicer guests, as about 1,200 parents, grandparents and siblings of our campers' arrived for the day. And while many of our kids were a bit nervous about saying goodbye to their loved ones, within only minutes of the final departure everyone (and I really mean everyone) was back to having a great time. There was silliness in the Lodges and great times everywhere you looked. Our Big Brothers and Sisters came down to spend time with their little siblings, and both the Evergreen Path and the Kenwood Compound were filled with laughing, smiling faces. A group of counselors put on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and put on an impromptu dance routine to make their campers laugh. It was a great time to be at Kenwood & Evergreen.
When I was a camper my favorite time of day was always Free Play. Free Play at Kenwood & Evergreen is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the least structured time of the day, and campers are free to go almost anywhere that they’d like on campus. During this time our specialty counselors open up their areas to anyone who is interested, so campers can use the batting cage, get a tennis lesson, work on a film project, try their hand at archery, paint a pot in ceramics, or just about anything else that we offer here. Free Play is also a time when campers are able to choose to do nothing, and they often revel in this glorious hour-long period of nothing. I thought that this blog I would try to capture some of the great moments that I saw during tonight’s Free Play (and highlight some of the benefits of unstructured time at Camp).
We are always looking for new and creative ideas at camp. While we have many sources, one of our best is Bob, our Kenwood Athletic Director. Bob’s a great coach, but he’s also one of the most innovative people on our leadership team. As an example, Hollowpallooza was his idea. About 15 years ago in a meeting he leaned over and said “you know, we obviously have tournaments for our kids playing sports but what about our kids who are super passionate about music? What if we had a concert in the Hollow? We could call it Hollowpallooza!”
Every morning we wake up the kids to the same refrain: everybody up! It’s going to be a beautiful day today. Rise and shine! Just before reveille it looked like a beautiful day was not in the works, so Scott jokingly said over the PA system “It’s going to be a beautiful day today…somewhere else!” The campers on the porch of Oak Lodge and I laughed at this. The forecast was downright dreadful. Thankfully, later that day we learned an important lesson: the weatherman isn’t always right.
There was so much going on this morning at Camp! The Kenwood 11’s Soccer team was out at a tournament and came home with a 3rd place showing. The Kenwood 12’s Tennis team had all sorts of success, with campers placing in the semi-finales and quarter-finals, and another camper winning the entire event for anyone who lost their first match. We also had a precious 9-year old who actually beat his 12-year old opponent! Great work, guys! The Kenwood 3rd year seniors also spent the day at lifeguard training, and while it left them exhausted they apparently learned a great deal.
You may have noticed that I did not post a blog entry for yesterday. Sadly, after finishing a piece last night around 1:30am my beloved laptop let out a loud gasp (literally, it sounded almost human), splashed an array of colors across the screen, and then ceased to function anymore. My new one arrives tomorrow, and I am currently borrowing Scott's. Thankfully, my most recent time machine backup was earlier in the afternoon, so there was no real loss. It was more of an inconvenience...except for the photos and video that I shot yesterday that I wanted to share with you. I hope when my harddrive is fully transferred tomorrow that I am able to recover some of what I wanted to show you. In the meantime I'll try and highlight some of the incredible little moments of the last 48 hours.
What a wonderful day at Camp, and a wonderful way to end week #3. At 7:00am, as I was walking to my office I bumped into almost 40 Kenwood campers on their way to their morning Polar Bear swim. With this heat wave there wasn't much "polar" to their swim, as right now the lake is so warm that it feels like bath water! As a group they were led by Adventure Dave, who had them do jumping jacks, hold hangs, and then leap in the water together. You could actually hear their laughing all the way at my house.
It's been a wonderful and busy couple of days, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite moments that we have captured!
There’s been so much going on in and out of Camp in the past few days. This morning a number of different expeditions returned, including the Evergreen Sophomores from their Mt. Kearsarge trip, the Kenwood Inters from their Belle Island Canoe trip, and our Evergreen Seniors from their 3-day climb up and down Mt. Washington. Each group had gorgeous weather for their trips, and upon returning every camper that I spoke with had incredibly positive things to say about their journeys. Our girls on Mt. Washington loved the camaraderie of taking their longest trip ever, and clearly were shocked at how beautiful the view was from the top of the mountain. The Kenwood Inters packed a whole lot into their trip. They learned how to cook over an open fire, improved their canoeing skills, had a big sing-along with their counselor Jared who brought his guitar, and ultimately most of them chose to sleep directly under the stars. The Evergreen Sophomores got to the top of the mountain yesterday in just over an hour and a half, and after eating their picnic lunches ran around the summit picking and eating delicious wild blueberries. Before heading back down the girls all gathered together and tried calling me on my walky-talky, and were amazed that it was able to reach me at Camp!
As a community our mission is to enrich our campers’ summers with experiences that go beyond just having fun. We try to help them learn to be more collaborative, more creative, better problem solvers and better at working through adversity. Today was a day where this was on full display.
Today seemed to be a day of trying new things at Camp. Our Evergreen Freshmen went on a day trip with Adventure Dave, and spent two hours jumping off of a bridge into a local body of water (with life jackets on, of course!), and then took turns swinging on a rope swing into a lake. One girl leapt off of the bridge 5 times! Our Kenwood Juniors had their first play practice, and started off by learning how to participate in improvisational games. I watched as they took turns creating new characters and scenes, building off of each other’s creativity and enthusiasm. They are now very excited to be a part of this year’s play. I also spent some time in the music building today and saw campers taking lessons in guitar, drums and piano for the very first time. A number of campers also went off of the zip line for the first time, including a couple of older campers who had been unsure about trying it in years past.
Today was maybe the most beautiful weather day of the summer, and a wonderful way to end our second week of Camp. From the time we woke until the sun set it was in the mid-80’s with low humidity and few clouds in the sky. Throughout the day I heard campers and staff saying to each other “can you believe how pretty it is out today?”
Camp seems to foster new discoveries each and every day. A group of Freshmen boys have been tracking the growth of the tadpoles that live in a stream near the archery range. With thunderous excitement they came running to me today to announce that the tadpoles were gone, and now there were literally hundreds of frogs the size of a finger nail leaping all over a patch of grass.
When I was a K&E camper one of my favorite times was when it rained. It always seemed to be a great opportunity for hanging out and making stronger friendships. It was on rainy days that I learned to play card games like Rummy and Uno, and board games like Risk and Backgammon. It’s when my people introduced each other to new bands that we had never heard before, and when counselors like Scott taught me to play guitar. As part of being independent for the first time campers very quickly learn really creative ways to occupy their time, especially when activities are put on hold because of inclement weather. Today was one of those days.
Yesterday was a day great for fun and new experiences at Camp. Our Kenwood 1st Year Seniors left on the most challenging mountain hike of their Camp careers. Filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation they left for their expedition up Mt. Washington. By mid-day they had reached the halfway point. Led by Tex, our head of overnight adventures, some set up the campsite while others worked on getting dinner prepared. The boys had a beautiful night sleeping on the mountain, and we await a report from the group leader saying that they have reached the summit!
Today was the second Monday of the summer, and wherever I went everyone seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. Just after breakfast the Kenwood 12’s Soccer left for an all-day tournament with camps from around the state. According to their coach, the boys gave it their all in 4 grueling games, and they were rewarded with a 3rd place win. They sang the entire bus ride home, and were just so happy to have played well together as a team. Congratulations, boys!
Yesterday was the end of an amazing first week at Camp...so today we began the start of our fabulous second week! This morning we all slept a little later than usual. After a leisurely breakfast Evergreen had its first intramural sports league game of the season. Each team is named after a different candy (of course a peanut free candy!), and is comprised of campers of all ages and counselors of different units. Over the course of the summer the Candy Bar League teams will get to play each other in soccer, softball, street hockey, kickball, and volleyball. It’s another great way for campers in the different age groups to get to know each other, and have a lot of fun playing sports.
Once a summer we have a special event called "Spirit Day". Both sides of our camp spend the day playing sports and having fun with the campers from another. We all eat lunch together, get to know one another, and in some cases see friends from home. It’s sort of like having a tremendously large play date that focuses on sports, teamwork and friendship.
There was a lot going on today as we said goodbye to this fabulous first week of the summer. Just as the sun was rising Kenwood had its first Polar Bear Swim of the summer, lead by Adventure Dave. Next Friday it will be Evergreen’s chance to take an early and “refreshing” dip into the lake.
The 4th of July is a huge event at Camps Kenwood & Evergreen, and this year was no exception. With all of our big plans we woke up with a bit of surprise: our entire town had no power! Thankfully, we really like to be prepared for anything that might happen, so a few years back we bought a massive portable generator for contingencies just like this. Within 5 minutes of discovering that the power was off Scott had turned it on, and immediately power was restored to our dining hall, offices, campus-wide PA system, and our entire water system. Our kitchen never missed a beat, and a terrific breakfast of eggs, bagels, hot cereal and a whole lot of fresh fruit was ready to go. Thankfully, power was restored to the town by about 9am, but we were more than prepared had it taken longer. After so many years of talking about learning to be resilient in a crisis even our youngest campers were saying to me “we knew everything would be great. That’s Camp!” Absolutely, guys.
After a couple of uneven weather days we woke up yesterday to a beautiful day at Camp. It was sunny, in the mid 80’s with a light breeze. Immediately after breakfast the camp moved out to activities with gusto, so excited by a picturesque summer day. I saw campers proudly wakeboard and tube for the first time, while dozens of kids covered the tennis and basketball courts for lessons.
I know that I’m a very positive person. It goes with being a camp director. That said, today was a spectacular day at Camp, particularly in terms of our goals of teaching our campers non-cognitive skills like resilience, adaptability, collaboration, healthy risk taking and creativity. Where to begin…
The weatherman warned us that today was going to be a complete washout. Thankfully, he was totally wrong and we were able to have a great day outside playing sports, going on adventures, and more. After a morning of all-camp photographs I watched our kids in both camps use their free time to play Frisbee, Basketball, Ping Pong, Soccer, Running Bases and more. Later on our Freshmen Girls had their first Tennis lessons of the summer, and they couldn’t wait to tell me how fun it was. Our Seniors finished their auditions for our big musical production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”, while the Kenwood Sophomores went on a nature hike to find salamanders and frogs. Evergreen Inters got behind the waterski boat for the first time, and also did some tubing. There were tryouts for basketball, baseball and soccer teams, and in Arts & Crafts kids were making candles, paper mache masks and learning to tie friendship bracelets. Campers were discovering how to cook baked stuffed apples or properly use tools in the Wood Shop.
Summer Camp for 21st Century Skills
After a fabulous, funny Counselor Show last night we awoke to a beautiful, humid, sunny Camp day. When I left my house at 7am Kenwood & Evergreen campers were already out of their beds, jumping with excitement on the front porches and lawns around their bunks. It appeared that everyone had slept well and seemed to be in a great mood. With a picturesque backdrop of a perfect blue sky we sang “Happy Birthday” to two campers during Assembly and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast of homemade waffles, fresh fruit and yogurt.