Gold Rush, one of our campers’ favorite special events!July 2, 2017
Starting our second week of the summer we let everyone sleep a little bit later to recharged their batteries. After a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bacon and homemade corn muffins we headed back to the bunk for a big cleanup.
Everyone changed their sheets and pillow cases and made sure to clean their bunk just a little bit more than usual. Then both Kenwood and Evergreen had their weekly Unit meetings. Each age group sat down to talk about what they liked best about this week, what they’d like to have been different, and what they are most excited for in week #2. They went over what trips and special events were coming up and which tournament teams had tryouts in the coming days.
Our counselors, who have been trained to facilitate these conversations, asked each camper their opinion on the week. They used phrasing that hangs all around our community: What Went Well…Even Better If. The idea behind this is to help them frame their thoughts constructively, either identifiying what went well this week (so that it can continue) or articulating that something would be even better if it changed in a particular way. As a summer camp that teaches children 21st century skills like collaboration, effective communication and creative problem solving, these meetings are at the core of how we help our children learn and grow.
Campers engaged in dialogue about what they thought of their bedtime rituals, how they used rest period and free play, and even how they hoped to use their Gold Rush money (should this event be coming soon). These meetings were not contentious at all. Rather, they were extremely positive, and gave each camper a chance to share his or her thoughts about our first week at camp.
After the Bunk Meetings different age groups moved out to activities. The Kenwood Freshmen had a kickball game with their Big Brothers, while the Sophomores played indoor soccer in the gym. The Inters and Juniors had a lengthy general swim, while the Seniors played sports up on Senior Hill. In Evergreen Junior Camp also had a long time basking in the hot sun while enjoying the waterfront, while our Seniors played different sports around campus. Then we all made our way to the dining hall for a delicious lunch.
In the middle of the meal there was a sudden commotion at the boys’ end of the dining hall. Three counselors dressed up in their best rural attire walked in screaming that they had found gold somewhere on campus. The campers and counselors began screaming right away, as this meant that one of our favorite annual special events was happening today: Gold Rush. Then a group of villains came in and pretended to steal the gold or lock them up and take them to the balcony of the dining hall. It wasn’t entirely clear but the actors were very committed to their roles and the kids all laughed and cheered.
After lunch, while campers were in their cabins, our maintenance crew scattered gold colored rocks all over the campus. When milk and cookies concluded Jacki Mitchell brought our junior campers together for instructions on how Gold Rush would work. Essentially, they would run as fast as they could around the property collective gold. By bringing it to the bank in the center of camp they could redeem the gold for Camp money, which they could then use at a Casino tonight (run by our senior campers), and then at an auction later in the evening. Our Junior Boys and Girls would serve as bandits and sheriffs, working to either disrupt the collection of the gold, or help it safely reach the bank.
Gold Rush is a ton of fun, but it also becomes a great exercise in 21st century skills. Rather than having individual campers spend their money, they have to work together with their entire bunk to figure out which prize or experience to bid on. It requires them to use so many of the skills that we work on here: collaboration, adaptability, effective communication, and leadership. And yet like all of these teachable moments here our campers just seemed to experience it as nothing but fun. Multiple new campers in both camps told me that Gold Rush was now their favorite part of Camp, which is due, in large part, to the incredible planning and execution of the event’s planners Jacki and Bob Mitchell.
In honor of Casino night our fabulous baker Kristy made these amazing cookies for everyone
An event like Gold Rush is also successful because of the participation of our campers. All afternoon our Senior Boys and Girls were in arts and crafts working on creating the booths and games for the Casino. Right after dinner they were in the theater setting up, and you could see how determined they were to make it fun and exciting for their younger friends. Everywhere I looked tonight our Junior campers were having an absolute blast at whichever game they were playing, and that because of the efforts of our Seniors. As it was happening Deena turned to me and said “if only they could all have this much fun in the rest of their lives. Camp is just the best thing ever”. They all deserve a massive Acka-Lacka-Ching for their leadership, creativity, and hard work today!
The prizes at tonight’s auction were all experiences and adventures, rather than tangible items. On the auction block was dinner and a movie at Scott’s house, watching the All Star Game and a dance party (with lasers and a smoke machine) at my house, a campfire and dinner at Jacki and Bob’s, a trip to New London with Walshy, an afternoon on the waterski boat for copious amounts of tubing, and extra night camping out, cooking lessons with our head of Cooking Mia, and so much more! The kids were so excited about the prizes and we can’t wait to spend extra time with these bunks.
Today was yet another day where everyone in our community contributed, and not surprisingly, it lead to everyone having yet another incredible day here at our overnight camp. I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow when the entire campus is turned into the largest Capture the Flag game you’ve ever seen!
our evening activities and special events are so amazing