The start of camp is just about 2 weeks away, and I know that both parents and campers are getting really excited. SO IS THE ENTIRE CAMP LEADERSHIP TEAM! In recent days we've had a number of new families reach out with 2 important questions: 1) "what do kids like to do during their free time" and 2) "is there anything not included on the packing list that my new camper might want to bring this summer?" I thought I'd address them both here.
So what can I do with my free time each day?
In an age of constant connectivity, many campers wonder what they will be doing when their mobile electronic devices are at home for the summer. Two games that our boys and girls love playing when they aren’t at regular activities: Magic: The Gathering and Sleeping Queens. If you aren’t familiar with these games I highly recommend checking out the two blogs I've written explaining what they are and why they are so fun!
These are not the only things that our campers do during free time. Many campers run around outside and play sports. We have big, beautiful, green spaces around each cabin and lodge, and every day of the summer campers are outside playing catch, ping pong, run-the-bases, wiffle ball, tetherball, gaga, and shooting hoops. They use free time to practice on our indoor and outdoor basketball courts, 11 tennis courts, and many soccer fields. They also love playing a game we call Roofball.
Roofball is proof that K&E campers can make a fun game out of just about anything! It involves 2 players, a tennis ball...and a roof. That's it. Player 1 throws the ball up and onto the roof. When gravity brings the ball down Player B has to catch it before it reaches the ground. If she does, then it's her job to throw it back onto the roof. If she missed it, then Player 1 gets a point. The game continues until someone gets 7 points. Oh, and if someone throws the ball and it bounces off of the side of the roof -- and not directly down -- then it's a point for the other player. That's Roofball, and every free minute of the day there are campers and counselors happily playing this at our summer camp!
But there’s another aspect of Camp life that I want to cover in today’s blog: team spirit. Our summer camp in NH is a very spirited place, and we participate in a lot of exciting games and special events throughout the summer.
Is there anything special that I might not know to bring to Camp?
There isn’t much, and we really love that about our Camp community. At many camps it's all about who has what (or, more to the point, who doesn't), and that's just not a part of life at K&E. Some kids like to bring a portable chair called a Crazy Creek, but most of us prefer to sit on the grass. At many camps you NEED to have a shoe organizer at the end of your bed, but because we give our campers ample space to store their belongings most people don't use them. We strongly recommend that you don’t bring a lot of stuff, as it only clutters up your area.
But what about the things that K&E campers do like? Some campers like bringing a second, smaller pillow, like a Moshi. It’s nice to bring them on bus trips. Another thing that some girls bring are small area rugs to put next to their bed (boys, of course, may bring them too but few seem to do so). The floors in the lodges are wooden or tile, and it’s nice to have something soft under your feet in the morning.
Rest Period after lunch is a great time to play a board game with your camp friends!
If you like playing games, you might want to bring something fun to play with your bunkmates. We will have some board games for you in the storage closet (just ask your counselor to borrow one if you want to play), but you can bring your own decks of cards, Uno, backgammon, checkers, SMALL Lego sets, chess, etc. Last summer Monopoly was also very popular. Mad Libs are also fun. Some kids trade comic books, too. A lot of our boys play games like Yugio, Pokemon and Magik. If you bring your cards make sure that you do not bring anything valuable, as they are likely to get damaged or lost at Camp. A lot of kids like bringing fans to Camp, as the weather can get pretty warm in July. If you do decide to bring a fan, please bring one that is battery powered, as there are only a few electrical outlets in each bunk.
PLEASE make sure that you don't bring any Apple iproducts (other than Shuffles) to our summer camp in NH. As part of our community providing children with summers unplugged we don't allow any devices that can show videos, photos, use apps or connect to wifi. If you want to have music with you this summer you will need to have it on a simple MP3 player without an advanced digital screen.
So what clothing do I need for special events like Color War, or this thing I see on the calendar called Big Weekend...and are there other days that I might not even know about?”
4th of July
The Fourth of July is usually our first spirit event of the summer. We have a huge BBQ that evening, and then join together in the theater for an amazing performance by the folk singer/rock star Nancy Tucker. And then the kids and counselors hang out together on the Evergreen beach while we launch an amazing fireworks display.
At morning assembly on the 4th many campers like to dress up and show their national pride. Campers wear matching red, white and blue ensembles, Uncle Sam hats and beards, flag capes, and more. After raising the flag all of the campers and staff who wore something special that morning pose together for a group photo. Please mention this to your first time camper and see if he or she has any interest in participating. If so, great, and if not, please know that the majority of our community starts their July 4th morning wearing regular shorts and t-shirts!
This is a 2-day spirit event that takes place sometime before Visiting Day each summer. Both Camps (and both staff and campers) participate in a weekend of silly made-up contests and more traditional sports, dressing up in costumes, lots of cheering and singing. Together, Kenwood and Evergreen are divided into 6 teams that have a common, funny theme (types of breakfast cereals, American universities, comic book characters, etc.). This event culminates on Sunday night with an all-team event that involves a lot of singing. You will not know when Big Weekend is going to start – it’s a surprise!
RELATED: The Amazing 2016 Big Weekend
Each team for this special event is represented by a color, and the players are asked to wear a t-shirt of that color during the 2 days. As it says on the online packing list, the colors we ask you to have this summer (since your child will be on one of these teams) are Black, White, Green, Yellow, Blue and Red. If your child already has a red shirt but it has a logo on it it will absolutely be fine for this event. We just need it to be of that color for when they are playing sports together, and so that their team is easily identifiable!
Campers of every age have the opportunity to participate in sports tournaments throughout the summer, including baseball/softball, soccer, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, and even archery! As fun as the many tournament days can be, we also love the more traditional “intercamp” events. Intercamps allow the kids in each age group the opportunity to play multiple sports in one day, as opposed to focusing on just one. Intercamps give more campers a chance to participate in more events, which is always the goal here.
Because so many of our campers enjoy intercamps we schedule one early each summer season for the entire community and call it Spirit Day. Both sides of our camp spend the day playing sports and having fun with the campers from another community. 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’s a ton of cheering and camaraderie, and it always makes for a spectacular event. The only thing that campers need to show their Camp spirit on one of these days is to wear one of our basic uniform shirts, which can be ordered through our online clothing catalog.
The biggest spirit event of the summer is our Color War. It takes place sometime during the 6th and 7th weeks of the summer. Like Big Weekend it always begins with a surprise event that we call a Break Out.
Yeah, this was pretty much the greatest breakout in our Camp's history!
Our girls’ camp wears green and gold/yellow, while our boys wear maroon/dark red and grey. Camp t-shirts are absolutely what the kids wear, and you can find those in our online clothing catalog. 2 of each color will be MORE than sufficient. K&E is not a fashion show!
Many campers like to accessorize their Color War outfits with all sorts of silly, fun accoutrements. Some sport colored wigs or fake mustaches while others wear tutus and a few strands of plastic Mardi Gras beads. In recent years we’ve also seen temporary hair coloring.
Deena and I went to our local Party City and found that they have basically anything you could want in CW accessories. To show her Camp Spirit she modeled some of her favorite green and gold wear. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE note that buying this sort of stuff is not a requirement at all. We also have bushels of it in the camp office for those who want to borrow it during this special event. But what we don’t want is for new campers to see some others wearing this sort of stuff and say “hey, I had no idea that I could do this to get into the Color War spirit!”
Our darling on-staff psychologist modeling the latest in Green and Gold accessories
On the last two nights of the summer we have our two closing banquet dinners (Evergreen's is on Thursday and Kenwood's is on Friday). Neither are formal affairs. In the boys' camp we typically wear a clean button down or Polo shirt, and in the girls' camp most people wear a sundress. That's it. No ball gowns or no tuxedos. Like everything else at K&E we try to keep it low key!
We have so many incredible special events planned for this summer, and we can't wait for our new campers to experience them for the first time! PLEASE do not worry if you haven't purchased something mentioned in this blog. We collect and recycle our Color War Spirit Wear year after year, and as I wrote about the 4th of July, the majority of our campers wear their regular clothes that day. These are just additional items that some campers enjoy having at Camp. And if your child's luggage has already been picked up by the time you read this, feel free to put these items under the bus when they travel on Opening Day.
Monday's blog will be about another recent topic we've been fielding in the Camp Office: what is the bus ride to Camp like? If your family is new to our summer camp community make sure you don't miss it!