The Blog of Camps Kenwood and Evergreen

Supportive camp friends help you to be your best self

Posted by Jason Sebell on Jul 10, 2015 3:08:00 AM


There are many things that I love about life at our 7-week overnight camp in NH. I love how no two days are ever the same. I love the kindness that our campers and counselors show each other. I love how hard people try at activities, and simultaneously how much fun they have at them. I love the sound that the frogs make on the lake at night. At the top of my list of things that I love here is how utterly committed everyone is to being their best self, and helping their camp friends achieve real happiness. Almost immediately after stepping off of the Opening Day buses campers and counselors internalize that this is a place where you can be totally comfortable being who you are. People find their silly side, or that they are a leader ways that they never knew before. They discovered that they love a team sport or artistic endeavor that they never even considered trying before. They find that they are stronger, more resilient than they ever had a chance to be while living in the comfort of their home. And as they discover all of this they begin to be more supportive and encouraging of their camp friends. 

This freedom to discover more of who you are leads to a lack of self-consciousness, which in turn leads to real, sustained happiness. It also helps our kids succeed in ways that they never thought possible. I'll share some examples just from today.

I started my morning at this Evergreen Junior Soccer period. A number of these girls play on competitive teams at home, but just as many do not. Their coach had them involved in this great drill where groups of 3 had to pass the ball from one end of the field to the other, and then try to score on her (the coach was in goal). Some of the teams completed the task quickly, while others struggled to maintain control of the ball, or shoot cleanly on goal. What did our girls who had finished first do with that free time? They stood to the side and cheered on their friends. Relentlessly. And when each group had completed the task, they took a break (not for water or rest) but to do a silly dance. How often in life do you see a group of 12-year old girls behave so supportively, while not worrying about their place in some social hierarchy?  

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Topics: 21st century skills, paddle boarding, jell-o wrestling, magic cards, best self, camper hunt

For Parents: What Exactly Are Magic Cards, And How Do You Play?

Posted by Jason Sebell on Jan 6, 2015 2:00:00 PM

When I was a Kenwood and Evergreen camper, one of my favorite parts of the experience was playing games in our bunk during downtime. No one had thought to bring hand-held electronic game systems to Camp, and no one had yet to invent Iphones or apps. During Rest Period after lunch, and on raining days, we would sit on the floor and actually play. Together. Without digital screens. It was incredible, and one of the ways we got to know each other each summer. We played a lot of board games, including checkers, RISK, battleship and backgammon. Our favorite card game was Spit, though we also played a ton of Gin Rummy and Crazy 8's.

Thankfully, not that much has changed at K&E during the intervening years. We're still a pretty unplugged summer camp. Campers are asked to leave their iphones and ipads at home, and are only allowed to bring devices that play music, and are unable to email, text, access the web, view videos, or use any apps. Our counselors are also required to keep their mobile devices outside of the bunks, away from the campers. We make this request of our community because it's part of our camp community's culture, but also because of the growing body of research about the importance of developing brains having extended unplugged time.

It usually takes our more plugged-in kids about 24 hours of being at our summer camp in NH before they forget that they even own such things, let alone how attached they become when they are using them at home. And then they (re)discover how lovely life can be without always being tethered to a mobile device. They use their free time for hanging out, being outside, goofy conversations, and a lot of olde school game playing. It's part of the magic life at our camp in NH. 

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This is what free time is like when you spend your summers unplugged with camp friends!

So what are the games that campers and counselors play at Kenwood and Evergreen these days? Many of the board games are the timeless classics: checkers, chess, backgammon, monopoly, and battleship. Spit is still the dominant card game, though Prez, Uno and War are still popular as well. But in the last few years one game kind of appeared out of nowhere and became the unofficial card game at Camp, or at least at Camp Kenwood: it's called Magic: The Gathering. Most in our camp community refer to it as "Magic Cards". Few parents seem to have ever heard of it. 

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Kenwood campers of many ages spending a Rest Period playing Magic Cards

So what exactly are Magic cards? I must admit that while I've watched kids play it for many summers, it was only recently that I came to fully understand the rules and strategy involved. On the same day that I gave one of my kids a deck of Magic cards for Hanukkah this year a long-time K&E parent forwarded me this article:

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Topics: summers unplugged, summer camp in nh, magic cards, board games

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