We woke up this morning to the first reveille of the summer, and Scott's announcement "everybody up...it's going to be a BEAUTIFUL day today. Rise and shine!" And a beautiful day it most certainly was.
It was wonderful to stand on the porch of the dining hall and watch new and old camp friends walking up together. Already you can see how comfortable the newest members of our community are here. Chef Charles and his team made us a fabulous breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, and a wide assortment of fresh fruit. Down in the bakery Kristie made us these delicious yogurt, granola and berry parfaits, and Kimberly, our new chef for people with food allergies, made homemade waffles and scrambled eggs without milk or cheese.
At assembly we made sure that everyone knew that today was going to be a hot and humid day, and that everyone should carry a water bottle at all times. We had multiple announcements reminding people to apply and re-apply sunblock, and whenever possible, we had our campers in the lake to cool off.
Down at the lake campers were having a fantastic time getting wet and staying cool. By 9:30 there were kids paddle boarding, having swim races, fishing, going on all of the inflatables, tubing and waterskiing. It was just a great day to hang out at in the water with your camp friends and counselors.
It was also a great day for hanging out with friends and being incredibly silly.
One young woman from NY spent the better part of the afternoon making everyone laugh as she walked around in this dinosaur costume.
Even though it was a hot day our campers were eager to get out and play sports. All day long our coaches and counselors were teaching the fundamentals of tennis, soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, ultimate frisbee and lacrosse. There was also gaga, gymnastics, mountain biking, rock climbing, the ropes course, and tryouts for many of our travel tournament teams.
At every sports activity our staff made sure our campers took lots of shade and water breaks.
Our arts studios were a great place to keep cool and be creative. All day campers were learning to draw, sculpt, braid, frame a photo, edit, script a narrative, craft a plan for building, follow a recipe and more!
Andy, celebrating his 20th summer as our Head of Ceramics, was so excited to show off the new clay molds he had acquired over the winter for the kids. Below you will see just a small sample of our newest stock!
Throughout the day there were also camper bands in the Music Building jamming out, and individual campers getting lessons on how to play the instruments that most interest them. It was just a fabulous first day of activities at Camp!
With the afternoon heat being pretty intense we decided to scrap the last activity period of the day and help everyone cool down as fast as possible. Evergreen Head Counselor Courtney invited her girls to the Hollow and turned on all of the underground sprinklers. The girls spent the next hour dancing, leaping, cartwheeling and frolicking while shrieking with utter delight while they got sprayed with bracing cold water.
Our Kenwood Head Counselors had their own plan. While the Senior campers were at the lake, they invited all of Kenwood's Junior campers up to the Field of Dream in their bathing suits. When the boys arrived they found Josh and Sean standing on top of our antique fire truck projecting gallon after gallon of refreshing cold water into the air. The k kids squealed with delight as they got utterly soaked, dried off in the hot afternoon air, and then got soaked some more. It was a pretty perfect end to a terrific first full day of the summer.
As we were preparing for dinner Scott had an epiphany: yes, it's hot and it's going to be hotter than usual in the bunks tonight, but MAYBE there's a way to make it just a bit more comfortable for everyone. Ever a man of action, he discovered that our local Home Depot had 60 high velocity fans available for sale...and he bought every one of them. Within minutes our Transportation Director Sue was on her way, and by the evening every bunk and hut in Kenwood and Evergreen had a nice, cool breeze to make sleeping that much easier. Both of them deserve a huge "Acka-Lacka-Ching" for making this happen!
After such an incredible first full day of Camp we capped it off by having two of our campers' favorite evening activities: Kenwood played Capture the Flag, and Evergreen had its ceremonial Opening Campfire.
It's always so much fun to watch all of our boys come together for this first all-boys event of the summer. From the opening whistle to the final 10-second countdown, everyone gave every bit of energy they had, and yet simultaneously everyone was able maintain the perspective that this was a game amongst friends. So our boys ran their hardest and certainly wanted to win, but they also walked off of the field with their arms around their buddies on both teams. That's the very essence of the Kenwood experience, and to see not just our longtime campers living this, but those who only began to live this within the last 24 hours, was pretty inspiring.
Tonight in Evergreen our eldest campers (a group called Juniper) led our young women in a beautiful ceremony just as the sun was setting over our lake. They read poems and talked about important concepts like truth, spirit, and knowledge. Scott and I were invited to play our guitars and lead the girls in singing. Scott played "Danny's Song" while I debuted a song I've been working on over the winter. Years ago Scott developed a repertoire of songs that would resonate with the campers in each camp, but it's taken me some time to find what I think are tunes that truly mean something to our Evergreen community. Tonight I debuted my version of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide", and based on the reaction I think I'm going to be singing this one at many future Evergreen campfires.
After 31 years as an Evergreen girl tonight was Deena's first time telling The Bird Story at a ceremonial campfire
After we sang Deena, Jacki and Courtney stood up and talked about the crucial life lessons that they had learned growing up here. They also talked about how precious the relationships are that they have made in their 31, 47 and 18 respective years as members of the incredible Evergreen Sisterhood. It was a night of expressing deep and meaningful emotions.
Evergreen's campfire has a particular tradition that I have always loved, and each year that I watch it I get a little choked up. As our Juniper leaders celebrate the virtues all Evergreen women strive to embody, they invite brand new campers up to read poems in front of the entire camp. After completing the readings the new campers are invited to light a candle on the Ceremonial Evergreen Tree.
Each time I see this tradition I think about how nervous our new campers must be at the start of the summer (I know I was 30+ years ago), and how incredible it must feel to be recognized and included in such a special ceremony. How powerful a message it must be for each new Evergreen camper to see that no matter how sacred the tradition it always includes a balance of new and veteran community members. It is such a clear signal to all that "You are now our sister. You belong and always will from this day on."
Evening activities like Capture the Flag and our Opening Ceremonial Campfires are really important for every member of our community, but especially our new campers. The time we spend together at events like these gives our campers a clear understanding of what our shared values are, and also a sense of belonging that is so fundamental to what our camp is all about. Seeing how normal and accepted it is here for our leaders, counselors and even campers of all ages to be vulnerable and real with their emotions helps every member of this community know that they can be that way too, and that it will ultimately lead to deeper, more meaningful friendships that truly last a lifetime.