In yesterday’s blog I wrote about what is, for most of our campers, the most popular time of each camp day: Free Play. As the name implies, it’s a daily block of time when campers are able to choose just about anything we offer in our program, from team and individual sports to visual and performing arts to hanging out with friends and counselors. It’s an amazing time in each Camp day for having fun, pursuing your passions, and learning to how use free time.
I’ve written before in this blog about how popular and important Free Play time is in our camp community. Every night of the summer, directly after dinner, campers have over an hour to do something rare in modern childhood: whatever they want. Some campers use this time to practice a sport, while others work on completing an art project. Many others use the time to sit with friends on one of our beautiful grassy areas to talk, giggle, play a card game, roll down a hill, and enjoy each other’s company. Each night you can hear campers using their Free Play time to jam in the music building, play some gaga ball, kick a soccer ball around, cut and drill lumber in the wood shop, or just hang out with friends and counselors.
If you were on vacation last week I hope that you and your family had a fantastic time. we're currently going through the many pictures we received of happy campers skiing, visiting warm places, and having all sorts of fun, often while wearing their Camp t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. Remember that our "Where Your Camp Shirt" contest is still going, so if you have a picture in an exotic location wearing some camp apparel to send it to us. Even if you didn't travel the farthest (and there's an awesome prize if you did) anyone participating will get something fun at the first assembly this summer on Camp Opening Day!
We had a whole lot of kids at our house last night for a sleepover, and we decided to try out a new activity that I've been working on for Camp for this summer. My goal was to make a game that was a ton of silly fun, unlike anything our kids had participated in before, and something that actually helped them work on developing their 21st century skills (vital skills like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and leadership). I call this game "Silly String Castle Siege".
It’s vacation week here in MA, and yesterday morning I picked my kids up from a sleepover at a friend’s house. When I asked my youngest how it went he waivered, and then said in a defeated tone “not good”. Now I know my youngest very well, and I’ve learned over time that there are always important nuances to understanding how he experienced a moment. As child development expert Dr. Michael Thompson has written about, as a concerned parent it's all too easy to "interview for pain" in a moment like this, and immediately have heard my child's discomfort as a chance to become alarmed. So fighting the intense urge to freak out and rescue him I responded with “Tell me more, buddy…” Here’s as close to a verbatim transcript as I can come up with, having been driving when it took place:
We had an amazing time this weekend at our annual Tri-State Area Camp Reunion. This was our first year bringing everyone together at the Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT, and by all accounts the new location was a major hit! Our new venue had tons of fun things to do with camp friends, including playing indoor soccer and basketball, bouncing in a room filled with trampolines, practicing hitting in the batting cages, rock climbing, and tumbling into a massive pit of foam blocks.
With so much snow on the ground the start of this summer can feel like it's years from now, and yet our opening day is less than 150 days away! So I have a question for our newest campers: are you getting excited for Camp? We sure are! We are so looking forward to spending the summer with you – playing together, learning, sharing, and just getting to know you better. We have so many fun daytime and evening activities planned already, like soccer and basketball, waterskiing and rock climbing, and capture the flag and Jell-O wrestling.
As excited as you may be joining us this summer, we also know that most new campers are also at least a bit nervous about their first summer with us up in New Hampshire. Much of this nervousness is due to the many questions you may have about what camp is going to be like, and how certain things work (like laundry and meal time and bunk cleanup and the bus ride up to Camp). So each week we are posting a blog with the answers to some of your new camper questions. Recently, we've written about some of the ways we spend our free time, how our campers show their spirit during our many fun special events, and the kind, nurturing ways our counselors put their campers to bed each night. We have put together these answers to some of the questions new campers seem to wonder about each summer. For the next few weeks we want to cover some of the questions about life in and outside of our bunks, and how that works. This information isd also for parents, and we ask that you please make sure to share this with your new campers!
I sleep with a stuffed animal at home. Should I bring it?
This is one of the most frequent questions we are asked! Almost every single junior camper (age 8-12) in Kenwood & Evergreen brings some sort of special item or object with them to Camp – a teddy bear, stuffed dog, sports pillow, or even a blanket they’ve had since they were really little. We’ve seen just about everything, and just about everyone in your bunk will have something. If having something like this is going to help you feel comfortable at Camp – and help you sleep at night -- then it’s probably a good idea that you bring it. What we recommend is that you don’t bring something fragile or irreplaceable. Living in a bunk, it’s easy for your special object to fall on the floor or get dirty. And sometimes these things even get lost at Camp. So you might want to bring you second favorite stuffed animal, or a blanket that feels like your much-loved one that is safely waiting for you when you get home from a fantastic summer at Camp.
So where do I keep my toothbrush?
In Kenwood you will be able to keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries in the back room bathroom, and in your front cubby. Please don’t leave your shampoo and soap in the shower, as the shower is used by everyone in your bunk and there isn’t enough space.
In Evergreen you will have space to keep your toiletries in the bathroom. Some campers also keep their toiletries on the top of their dresser. Please don’t leave your shampoo and soap in the shower, as everyone in your bunk needs to use the shower and there isn’t enough space. Many campers bring a plastic shower caddy that holds everything in a neat and contained way.
Inside the front and back rooms of inviting, nurturing Camp Kenwood bunks
In Kenwood, what goes in my Back Cubby and what goes in my Front Cubby?
When you get to Camp you will see that your bags have already been unpacked by your counselors. In your back cubby you will find neat stacks of your shirts, shorts, pants, socks, and underwear. On the top shelf you will find your towels and sheets. Your raincoats, ponchos and jackets will be hung up either on hangers, or on pegs. Please make sure you look around and make sure you know where your belongings are located!
Your front cubby is a great place to put all of your other stuff, including your stamps and stationary, your music, your water bottle, hats, games, cards, books, magazines, bug spray, and sun tan lotion.
Inside the bright, comfortable, homey cabins of Camp Evergreen
In Evergreen, what goes in my Dresser?
Just as with Kenwood, Evergreen campers are greeted with unpacked bags and made beds on opening day. We do this so that our campers feel like they have a home base from the minute they arrive, and can immediately go outside and start forming friendships. Who wants to unpack and get homesick when you can have fun right away?!
In Evergreen your dresser is located in the main room of the bunk, either next to or at the foot of your bed. When you arrive this summer your counselors will have put your clothes that can be folded – socks, underwear, t-shirts, bathing suits, shorts, pajamas - into your dressers. Pants, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. will be hung in closets located either in the bathroom, or in the living room hallway. Many campers use the top of their dressers as a place to keep all of their little items, including stationery, flashlights, books, stuffed animals, and more.
How about my sheets and towels?
In Evergreen we keep your sheets and towels in the linen closet, which is located in your bathroom. Towels are kept in the linen closet in the bathroom, stacked on shelves in living room, and in window bins in the living room.
But what about the stuff that doesn't fit in a Kenwood Front Cubby or on top of an Evergreen Dresser?
Many campers find that they like keeping these odds and ends in a Rubbermaid-style bin that they keep under their bed. If you decide to bring one of these to Camp please know that the tallest bin that will fit under a K&E bed is 7 inches! Here's a link to a bin that many campers find useful at Camp.
Where do I keep my shoes at Camp?
You may have seen in our online clothing catalog that they offer something designed to hold your shoes. It attaches to the end of your bed. Many campers find this very useful, as it keeps their shoes organized and off of the floor. Other campers keep their shoes lined up beneath their bed, or in the bottom of their front cubby (in Kenwood). Whichever works best for you is fine with us, as long as you are keeping track of them. Throwing them in a pile in a corner of the bunk is messy, and a great way to lose a shoe.
Help me understand how laundry works
New campers are often curious about how this works. When you get to Camp you will find where your counselors have hung your laundry bags up in the bunk or living room. When your clothes are dirty, please place them in the laundry bag. Once a week your bunk will be asked to bring your laundry bags to get washed at the Laundry. You and your bunkmates will cross the road with a counselor, and make sure to put your belongings in a barrel that is clearly marked with your bunk’s name on it. If you put your bag in another bunk’s barrel it may take a long time to get your clothing back!
The following day you will hear an announcement by your head counselors letting you and your bunkmates know that your laundry is ready. Ask your counselor when will be the right time for you and your bunkmates (with a counselor) to head back to the Laundry. To get to Laundry you will have to cross our Camp road, and campers may only do this with a counselor present! When you get there your shirts, shorts, towels and other laundry will be clean and neatly folded into piles. Your socks and underwear will be stuffed into the laundry bags. Please make sure that you only take what belongs to your bunk!
It will probably take you and your bunkmates a couple of trips to get all of the clean laundry back to the bunk. Once everything has arrived, all of the campers and counselors in your bunk will sort through everything, and make sure that everyone gets back what belongs to them. Make sure that you stay in the bunk until every article of clothing has been returned to its owner, and that all of the clothing has been put away. If anything that doesn’t belong to you or your bunkmates has been placed in your laundry please return it immediately to the Laundry. Somebody will be looking for what you found!
What if I have more questions before Camp?
Don’t worry – we will be posting more information like this one over the next few weeks months. Next week we'll be writing about meal time, free play after dinner, and more! Hopefully we will answer most of your questions before our New Camper Parties in May, and continue to help you get more excited for your first season with us at our summer camp in New Hampshire! In the meantime, if you have any additional questions or thoughts about the summer please reach out via email. We’d love to hear from you!
Founded in 1930, Camps Kenwood and Evergreen is a brother-sister summer camp in NH. Through our innovative, intentional approach we help new campers reduce anxiety and homesickness before the summer even begins.
It’s February, which means that it’s time for our annual camp reunion in the Tri-State area. With our campus in New Hampshire we travel throughout the off-season to host reunions where our campers live, including NYC, Boston, and New Jersey. This year we are moving our February event to a new location – Chelsea Piers in Stamford, CT. This Saturday, February 7th more than 300 campers, counselors, parents and alumni will be gathering with us to spend time with their camp friends. We’ll be playing indoor soccer, hitting in the batting cages, tumbling in the gymnastics area, and so much more! We’ll also be watching a preview of the Summer 2014 Camp Video Yearbook. At full length it is a 45-minute recap of all of the incredible moments that we shared together last summer. Towards the end of the event we’ll gather together to for a light dinner and to celebrate our many friends who have birthdays this and next week. Because of our commitment to being an allergy-friendly summer camp everything we serve will be peanut and tree nut free, and we’ll offer gluten free, dairy free and egg free alternatives at this event.
For more information on our camp reunion, including timing and an address for your GPS, please click on this link here.
Every summer parents and campers tell us that our counselors are part of what makes our overnight camp such an incredible experience. In particular, they mention the teaching and coaching of our specialty counselors. Specialty counselors run and coach sports activities, teach visual and performing arts, and instruct at our waterfront and outdoor adventure areas. Each fall and winter members of our administrative team travel throughout the United States and across the world interviewing adults who understand how to teach their activity area to Kenwood and Evergreen’s campers, while also helping our children gain technical proficiency in vital 21st century skills – skills like critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, creativity, resilience, and collaboration.
In recent blogs I've written profiles about our heads of Tennis, Basketball, Soccer, Ropes, Film Making, Ceramics, Music and more. This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sarah Valacer, the head of our Girls' Lacrosse program. Sarah is a deeply dedicated member of our team, and we are so fortunate to have her as a part of our Camp family. Below are Sarah's thoughts on working in our intentional summer camp environment, and how she uses lacrosse as a tool for teaching 21st century skills to our campers.