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.
The End Of A Great Third Week At Our Summer Camp In NH
Today, our summer camp in NH said goodbye to a fabulous third week of the summer. Our very happy campers woke up to an absolutely beautiful New Hampshire morning. The weather was mild, and as the sun rose over the lake it quickly burned off a thin layer of fog. This was just around the time that 57 Evergreen campers and their counselors descended on the Evergreen waterfront for their second Polar Swim of the summer. With great glee they lined around the docks, did their jumping jacks, and with the support of Adventure Dave leapt into the brisk morning water.
Today just felt like a wonderfully mellow day. Our very happy campers seemed to enjoy their many activities, but I think that they enjoyed today's rest period even more. The temperature was just right in the cabins, and as I walked from building to building I saw something that surprised me. In both Kenwood and Evergreen there were campers of various ages in all of the bunks. Seniors were playing magic cards with their Inter friends, and Sophomores were playing ping pong with the Juniors. There was a dance party in Cedar lodge with Freshmen, Sophomores, and Seniors, and in front of Hemlock about 50 girls and counselors were lying on towels listening to music. It was wonderfully social, and the mixture of friends of different ages made me smile.
Today Was The Start Of Another Great Week At Our Summer Camp In NH
We began the 3rd week of this amazing summer with campers going in so many different directions. Kenwood’s Hut 6 (our oldest boys) left on their white water rafting trip in Maine. For the next two days they will be braving the class 4 & 5 rapids of the Dead River (home to some of the best rafting on the east coast). The Evergreen 15’s participated in a lacrosse tournament for the first time in our camps’ history. The girls were so proud to be pioneers in this sport that we have only begun to teach and play in the last few years. Our 9/11/13/15’s swim team was also out of Camp today for a big swim meet. As you can see in the picture above they had a phenomenal time!
Another Amazing Special Event At Our Brother-Sister Summer Camp In NH
As a brother-sister summer camp in NH, our boys and girls spend their weekdays doing their own thing. Campers in each camp participate in the same activities – team and individual sports, visual and performing arts, and all sorts of waterfront and adventure activities – just not together. The weekends are when we bring our two camps together for some of our amazing special events.
The Friday Night Traditions At Our Summer Camp In NH
Camps Kenwood and Evergreen is a values-driven summer camp in NH. Our parents tell us regularly that one reason that they chose our summer camp community is because of our emphasis on character education. Over the course of each 7-week season we strive to teach our campers about the value of being an honest, hardworking, empathetic, socially conscious person. Our counselors serve as role models to their campers, actively reinforcing these values in the midst of bunk life, on our ball fields, and in the rest of daily camp life.
Another way that we do this is when we pause on Friday’s to discuss and reinforce our community’s shared values. As part of an inclusive community we offer two simultaneous gatherings: a historically Jewish Shabbat service, and a non-denominational, ecumenical service. About 90% of our campers come from Jewish homes. We feel that it’s important to offer a weekly Shabbat service for them while also offering a welcoming alternative to our non-Jewish friends. Campers are free to take part in either service, and most happily try out both over the course of each summer.
Welcoming new friends to our summer camp in NH
As always, we had a lot going on in and out of Camp today. Evergreen's Mt. Washington trip made it to the top of the mountain. The girls had spectacular weather, and loved the incredible view. Evergreen's dance team had a meet at another camp, and while it is still unclear to us how the judges were scoring the event, our girls were very pleased with how they performed. Kenwood's Inters and Juniors had a day at Weirs Beach. When I was with them they were playing football and frisbee in the sand, and enjoying a hot, sunny day in beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee. Evergreen's 11's, 13's and 15's took part in a massive tennis tournament, and many girls advanced to later rounds.
Just after breakfast Kenwood's 1st Year Seniors left on an excursion with Adventure Dave. They traveled to Rye Beach and learned how to paddle board on the ocean. Everyone got up on the boards and enjoyed the surf, and a great time was had by all!
Lessons Learned Away From Home
When my father was a Kenwood counselor in 1968 he brought with him up to Camp a state-of-the-art KLH turntable with a vacuum tube amplifier. Next to his bed was a crate of the great albums of the day: Sgt. Pepper’s, Days of Future Past, Pet Sounds, The Sound of Silence. At night he would turn down the lights and share his favorite music with the 9-year olds he lived with.
Creativity and the Arts at Camp
The visual and performing arts are a major facet of life at our summer camp in NH. Each day of the summer our campers have the opportunity to build, paint, draw, photograph, film, and practice, which helps them develop their vital 21st century skills like creativity, resilience, collaboration, critical thinking and flexibility/adaptability. At Camps Kenwood and Evergreen in NH we have individual art studios for each of the following disciplines:
Our Incredible Summer Camp Facilities
While we believe that it’s the people who define a camp, we think our outstanding facilities go a long way in making Camps Kenwood and Evergreen the extraordinary place that it is. We have 210 acres of forest and fields, overlooking a half-mile stretch of private lake and beaches in New Hampshire.
Camps Kenwood & Evergreen is the beloved New Hampshire summer home for 330 boys and girls with age groups for boys between 8 - 15 years old. Our campers strengthen their social skills and become more independent with the help of their counselors and coaches, who are great role models and mentors. We strive to find every moment in each day for our children to exceed their own expectations and believe in themselves in a way that they might never have thought possible. In every activity and program we teach the skills that will be vital to every child’s success in the 21st century. To achieve these incredible goals Kenwood & Evergreen has more than 200 highly trained staff, and each cabin has a maximum of 8 campers with 2 full-time general counselors!
Campers choose our summer camp in NH because of their strong desire to be a part of fun, welcoming community that nurtures them to be their best selves. Because of this we attract kind, well-rounded boys and girls with diverse interests that include team & individual sports, visual & performing arts, and outdoor adventure. On average, over 93% of eligible Kenwood & Evergreen campers return each summer. Our campers tell us they return to our summer camp in NH because of the strength of the friendships that they make at Kenwood & Evergreen, and that each summer they have the opportunity to be themselves in a way that they can’t anywhere else.
A summer at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen is about developing new skills for life. This includes becoming a better ball player, but also becoming a better friend. It’s about learning a new song on the electric guitar, and it’s also about learning how to live away from home and with other people. It’s about trying everything exciting our program has to offer, but also trying some activities that are a bit out of your comfort zone. Our weekly schedule offers the following exciting activities:
It was another beautiful, sunny day at camp in NH today. Everyone in Kenwood was on campus, as was most of Evergreen. I spent my morning walking around from activity to activity, happy to watch all of the great fun that our kids were having. My first stop was in the film making studio, where a group of our girls were busy putting the finishing edits on their submission for the 6th annual Film Festival, which will be this coming Monday evening. The videos that I saw involved sophisticated use of the green screen, complicated edits, and even a separate sountrack!