Making a Rainy Day at Summer Camp Into Something IncredibleJuly 14, 2017
When I’m giving tours during the summer one of the most common questions that I get asked is so what do you do at camp when it rains? At a lot of other camps they watch movies or sit in their bunks and wait for the clouds to pass. Not at K&E. This is one of those questions we LOVE to answer because we do amazing things, and whenever possible, we play outside in the rain!
The weather was not particularly nice today. I’m not sure that we ever saw the sun, and for much of the day the rain fell more horizontally than we are used to. But our counselors were up for the challenge, and together they helped make this rainy day into something incredible. All day, even when it downpoured, there were campers out on our ball fields playing in the rain. I watched great instructional sessions for soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, flag football, kickball, and gaga. Every time the rain stopped we dried ourselves off and played just a that much harder.
The boys in the above photo were not quite sure that they wanted to play outside this afternoon, especially since it was raining pretty hard at the start of the activity period. Towards the end the rain stopped but they practiced hard the entire hour. As they were walking away one said to me “Jason, that was by far the best period of the summer!” Another agreed and said “I’ve never loved basketball before today!” That’s learning how to make the best of any situation, boys. Bravo.
Because of the rain we moved our breakfast assembly into the Dining Hall. Some kids would have been upset to hear that certain trips were cancelled but not our boys and girls. This was the reaction from our boys when Head Counselor Walshy announced that instead of a soccer tournament they would be heading with Adventure Dave to visit a farm.
We did an extra long cleanup after breakfast, which both meant that our bunks got tidier, but also that our campers and counselors had a few more minutes to hang out and bond with each other.
Once we started morning activities people were in the mood to do and play, even if it meant getting wet. Campers were practicing in the batting cage while others were working on basketball drills in the gym. It was wet out, and a little cold, but our kids were just happy to be here, and happy to be taking part in so many of the activities that they truly love.
These girls were having a great game of volleyball and asked me to come by to take some pictures. I stood against the net in the middle of the court as Caroline served. Seconds before she did her friend Mia warned me that I might get hit by the ball. As if scripted in a movie, the ball travelled like a rocket directly to me, striking me square in the stomach. I went down immediately, not hurt but laughing uncontrollably, and when I got up every girl on the court was in absolute hysterics. This might have been my favorite moment of the entire week!
Because our overnight camp also has so many indoor facilities our kids were also busy in our many art studios. As I walked around I saw campers having fun taking photos, designing comic books, painting, constructing animals out of cardboard, and more. As an example, today in Photography some campers were designing and printing their own t-shirts while others were creating their own Pokemon and Magic Cards. Some kids were even making their own comic books!
Mia was running lessons all day in the Cooking Laboratory, too, teaching kids how to make absolutely delicious cream cheese based cookies and bars.
Our theater team jumped right into teaching songs for this summer’s two musical productions. Our seniors will be putting on a production of “Mama Mia” in just over a week, and I can tell you that the songs are already starting to sound REALLY good!
Everyone was very busy in the ceramics studio. All this week Andy has been teaching classes in fine detail painting and glaze application. The stuff that our campers are producing is really creative and really cool.
In the wood shop Mike had dozens of campers designing wooden signs for their bunks or homes. More experienced campers were already selecting and measuring cuts of wood to start building furniture and photo frames. I made a promise that anything built in the shop could find a way home at the end of the summer. I fear that I may have to rent a Uhaul or two, but it will be worth it!
By the late afternoon the rain had mostly stopped, but our campers still had tons of energy and interest in being outside. The Kenwood 10 and Under Soccer Team ended up traveling to another camp to play, and came home with a 2nd place finish. We were especially proud of them when we learned that the director of the hosting camp had said to them “you guys have played better as a team than any Kenwood team I’ve seen in years!” Let’s give an Iggy the Bongo cheer for the Boys!
The Evergreen Dance Team was also out at another camp for a major tournament. We sported 3 different teams who all performed really well, and came home with 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd place wins. Phyllis travelled with the teams and was so proud of every participant. At dinner tonight she regaled us all with stories of how hard they danced and how well they worked together. Way to go, Girls!
The U13’s Flag Football Team also had its tryouts today, and tons of our boys were out on the field giving it their all, even if they were a bit water logged.
The same was true in Evergreen, where our Seniors are using every free minute to practice for next week’s Tri-State Softball tournament.
And even though it had been cold and rainy all day, on the schedule it called for Jell-O Wrestling and our girls were NOT going to be deterred. At 7:30pm sharp the entire girls’ camp arrived with bathing suits and towels, super excited to get covered in globs of multi-colored gellatin. My wife Deena, as always, was the referee. Worried that she’d get too cold over the course of the night she actually wore a full scuba diving wetsuit underneath her official Evergreen Jell-O Wrestling Referee Uniform. What a great night for total silliness and Evergreen Sisterhood!
It was a day of torrential rain and cold weather, but also unwavering smiles and happiness. Wherever I went I saw kids and counselors not just trying to enjoy themselves, but actually transform today into one that will stand out as one of the best days of the entire summer. No complaining, no downturn faces. Just laughter and fun and ridiculous moments…like this one.
I walked out of the dining hall after lunch and about 50 campers and staff were crowded around our Senior Unit Leader and the Head of Softball who were throwing a soccer ball onto the roof. Each time they threw the ball it would bounce a few times and then fall off of the roof, and each time the crowd would ooh and ahh hoping for something to happen. Finally I moved and saw that someone’s stuffed animal was up there (the owner had thrown it up there as a joke), and the counselors were doing their best to knock it down with a soccer ball. Even in the midst of a rain storm our community was finding a way to create a moment of pure silliness and joy.
FYI, after 20 minutes Mike, the Head of Woodshop, climbed up on the roof and got the stuffed bear down. Everyone cheered for him and he took a gracious bow.
We do our best to make every day special here, even when things beyond our control don’t cooperate. It’s one of the ways we try to model resilience for our campers. Today’s weather gave us a great opportunity to remind ourselves of how much fun can be had even on a rainy day. It’s a basic part of life here, but an important one: when it rains at camp we go do stuff. We go outside, we play sports, we work on projects together, and we do as many things together as we possiblt can. Life is too short to do otherwise.