It's the start of our 16th annual, totally amazing Senior Camper Winter Weekend at our summer camp In NH! At 11am this morning the journey began, and it always feels to me like a trip on the Hogwarts express. About 70 Kenwood and Evergreen campers and counselors and I boarded a private Amtrak train car at New York's Penn Station and headed north. I loved watching how it literally took seconds for our kids and staff to get back into "camp mode". Everyone was hugging and laughing and kind to each other, and it felt like Kenwood and Evergreen even though we were standing in the middle of an NYC train station.
Yesterday, the head counselor at our summer camp for boys posted a blog about the 5 essential skills quality coaches use when communicating with their players. He actually wrote it on Friday, and I spent much of the weekend thinking about how insightful his ideas were. These 5 skills are a major reason that our coaches are able to help our athletes grow so much during our 7-week seasons.
We asked members of our camp staff if they wanted to share their thoughts about our brother/sister community, and many, many have said yes, so each week this fall we have published articles by our different camp counselors. This week we are thrilled to share another piece written by Josh Williams, a long time counselor and unit leader at our summer camp for boys.
The other day Scott forwarded me an article about a group of teenagers in London who intentionally unplugged from the world of mobile phones and apps for a week. The results were incredibly telling.
When you find yourself happily living in a cabin filled with total goofballs.
And that the easiest way to be away from home is to surround yourself with amazingly wonderful. funny people.
When you played in one of the greatest sports tournaments of your young life.
That night you discovered that wrestling in 1,000 pounds of Jell-O is pretty much the best thing ever.
Saturdays during special weekend events when you and your friends played the silliest, weirdest, most awesome game of soccer and absolutely loved it.
That day when you climbed higher up the rock wall than you ever thought you could.
That one evening that taught you to truly appreciate something as simple and beautiful as a sunset.
That beautiful New Hampshire morning when you were sure you would never learn how to water ski, and then ended up going around the lake twice.
During an amazing evening activity in the dark that involved a race to build the biggest fire possible.
That night you and your friends put on a fantastic musical theater production for the entire community.
In the cooking laboratory when you learned how to bake something incredibly tasty that was also peanut and tree nut free.
The middle of that practice when the super nice coach took extra time to explain it to you and your friends.
When you learned how to be a respected leader of your peers.
Down at the lake when you discovered that some of the best thrill rides in the world involve a NH lake and your best camp friends.
That warm afternoon where you photographed yourselves doing this just to see if you could do something fun and beautiful together.
The fifth week of the summer when the camp owner and all of your friends formed a band and rocked out at the annual music festival.
Friday Night during Brother-Sister Visiting, when even you had to admit that you're closer with your little sister when Mom and Dad aren't around.
Realizing that you've made deep friendships with people from all around the world.
That afternoon you and your team played your hearts out in the tournament and the coach was just as proud of your sportsmanship as he was of the score.
At daily breakfast assembly when one director hit another in the face with a pie in front of the whole camp community and no one could stop laughing.
When your toughest moment of the summer was made better by a hug from your counselor.
The arts activity where you discovered an amazing outlet for your creativity.
When 500 people sang "Happy Birthday" to you before breakfast and it was the best birthday you ever had.
On top of the mountain when you realized that you would be sisters forever.
Or at the campfire when you recognized how powerful it is to be a part of a brotherhood built on principles like honesty, caring and hardwork.
The award ceremony where you were celebrated for being a good and kind person.
The final moment of Color War when you got more excited than you had ever been before in your entire life.
And then cried your eyes out at the very thought of having to go home after 7 weeks of summer camp in New Hampshire.
The final night, when you realized that saying goodbye to these incredible 7 weeks of independence, self discovery, and personal growth was the hardest thing to do.
There are so many powerful moments that make up a season at our overnight camp in NH. We invite you to learn more about the myriad ways we change the lives of young people.
It's the start of our 15th annual, totally amazing Senior Camper Winter Weekend at our summer camp In NH! At 11am this morning about 70 Kenwood and Evergreen campers and counselors and I boarded a private Amtrak train car at New York's Penn Station and headed north. Along the way we picked up friends in New Rochelle, Stamford, and Providence, ultimately stopping at Boston's 128 Train Station. When we arrived there were another 40 or so campers and counselors exitedly waiting to join us on our journey.
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.
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.
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:
An amazing visiting day at our summer camp in NH
The sun setting over our lake after a beautiful visiting day at our summer camp in NH
A Message from Scott
It is just after 10pm, and I’ve walked our campus end to end for the final time today. The evening air is beginning to chill slightly as the hours pass, and a gentle mist gathers in the low spots across our summer camp in NH. The stars are coming out, and inside our bunks your children and their counselors are drifting off to sleep, dreaming of the coming days and all that they will bring.
As always, the few tears that we saw as you drove away this afternoon quickly vanished. It took about 15 minutes for Camp to return to its pre-visiting day state, as the sound of play quickly filled our campus. Our Hut 6 & Juniper big brothers and sisters rushed in to join their adopted freshmen siblings, and in a few short minutes, their attention shifted from your departure to basking in the adoration of these engaging young leaders and future counselors.
As is our tradition, after another wonderful dinner served up by our beloved Chef, our younger boys and girls gathered in the tent and gym to lose themselves in a movie and in the company of good friends. The girls watched “Frozen”, and as if on cue, rose together in song for a rousing version of “Let It Go”. This song and the sentiment it represents have been recurring themes this summer. We are proud of who we are, and are striving to be our best selves. We take whatever comes our way and make the best of it. Some call it "acceptance". others "resilience", still others may call it “grit”; for your children at our Brother-Sister camp this summer, it is just how we “roll” as a camp community. As Jason would say, we are “very happy campers”.
When your children awake to Reveille tomorrow morning, the final three weeks of our summer camp in New Hampshire will begin. We save many of our most exciting events for the end of the summer; Hollowpallooza, Carnival, Color War, exciting canoe adventures and many more.
For those campers who left us today, though they will be missed by their bunkmates and counselors, they will all have the chance to experience these wonderful end of summer days when they return for the full seven week experience next summer.
For the rest of us, we are about to enter the time warp that is the final three weeks of Camp. These days will pass like a blur, but we will treasure each remaining moment. There is more learning to do, and the growth and maturity that you saw in your children today will continue to blossom in these final weeks of Camp.
All of your children are in bed, safe and sound, ready for the fun and adventure that tomorrow will bring. It was a wonderful Visiting Day, in which all of us went with the flow, and showed our ability to have fun under any and all circumstances. With a little help from our vigilant weather team, we made the most of this memorable day. I am grateful to all of you for sharing this day with us. I am even more grateful that you have chosen us as your partners, and have shared your wonderful children with us, if only for a few more short weeks.
Sleep well tonight! We’ll see you in three weeks!
With love and gratitude,
We are very excited to welcome our friends and family to our summer camp in NH tomorrow
Tomorrow, sometime after 9am, about 1,200 parents, grandparents and siblings of our current campers' will be arriving at our summer camp in NH. Our very happy campers are eagerly anticipating seeing so many loved ones. If you need a copy of tomorrow's schedule please click here. Below is also a map of our campus, which will enlarge when you click on it.