So many special moments make up a day at our overnight camp in NHJuly 12, 2016
This was just another typical day here at our overnight camp in New Hampshire, but that’s what I loved about it. A typical Camp day is filled with so many special moments and I thought I’d highlight just a few.
At morning assembly we celebrated the birthday of a camper and also of Music James. James has been our head of the music department for 5 summers, and over that time he’s literally taught hundreds of boys and girls how to play the electric guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. Most of his days here are spent helping groups of friends form rock bands and practice successfully until they are ready to perform at Hollowpallooza, our music festival on the 5th Saturday of the summer.
A tradition at our assemblies is that when it’s your birthday you get to invite up anyone who has special meaning for you to help lead the singing of our birthday song. The list usually includes bunkmates, former counselors, and maybe a favorite administrator. We turned it a bit on its head today and asked “please come up and celebrate James if he has helped you be ready to perform in Hollowpallooza”. This is how many campers and staff came forward.
No matter what age you start here this place becomes your second home.
Many in our summer camp community love puzzles. Whenever the Northeast is hit by a snow storm and our campers are home from school we help them stay busy by creating and posting word, math and picture games that somehow relate to camp. Throughout the winter this young lady was the champion at solving our puzzles, and solving them before anyone else in our camp family, so this morning we presented her with an official Camps K&E blanket, and then entire community gave her a massive Acka-Lacka-Ching.
I love that this is a community that celebrates critical thinking and problem solving.
During activities I watched lots of wonderful moments of campers learning, but in particular I saw two moments of incredible kindness that stayed with me. The first was with these four girls pictured below.
They were at a soccer clinic, and were working on passing and shooting drills. It was a really fast paced set of exercises, and frustrating at times. After about 10 minutes of struggling through it each of these four friends finally mastered the skill set at the same time, and reflexively ran up and hugged each other in celebration.
No one supports you quite like the friends you meet at overnight camp.
About a half hour later I was on the basketball court and watched a similarly difficult set of drills. One boy got them down faster than the rest of his peers. Rather than getting frustrated, he started looking for what each of his friends were doing right, and made sure to voice something positive. Round after round, he kept doing this, and not surprisingly his friends fed off of this positive reinforcement. Very quickly they got the skill set down, and as they walked off the court I heard two friends tell him “that was really cool what you did there. Thanks”
I agree. That was really cool. Thanks for making camp a better place today.
So I have to admit that I didn’t take this photo. Our 2nd Year Senior Girls went on a trip with Adventure Dave, and their counselor captured this amazing moment. All afternoon our young women were climbing this tree, grabbing a rope, and swinging with wild adandon before leaping into this beautiful river. As you can see this was an exceptionally fun time for all.
These are the healthy risks we teach our girls and boys to take and love.
There’s a twenty minute period after morning activities just before lunch, where our kids have some free time. I sat for a while with the Junior Boys as they played 5 or 6 games of ping pong today. I mention this because at home many of them would likely see their free time as a reason to grab the nearest iphone or ipad. Instead, these 12 year old boys used their unstructured time to play and interact with one another and just have unplugged fun. Best of all, over the course of each game, the configuration of players changed without incident or argument. Games were won and lost, and everyone was a great sport about it.
I love watching our kids learn to be so independent and social.
While the ping pong games were going on I heard cheering in one of the bunks and had to see what was going on. These guys had a GoPro camera and were using it to film a vlog about their lives here. They were talking about every aspect of life at Camp — the food, the activities, what happens after Lights Out, and everything else that matters to a 12 year old. Apparently during Free Play after dinner they go to the Film Studio to edit this, and will eventually post it after the summer.
What a great creative outlet for expressing yourself.
I wanted to share this photo because it was actually a candid moment. These two friends — one who lives in Connecticut and one who lives in California — were walking by me with their arms around each other. No one asked them to pose — this is just how they like to walk from place to place.
It’s amazing to have camp friendships this strong.
I stood and watched these Kenwood 2nd Year Seniors spend about a half hour on slide this afternoon. The young man with the glasses from Sands Point found himself able to climb the 27 ft ladder faster and easier than his friends. It’s hard to see from this picture, but what he was doing was stabilizing himself and helping pull each of them up so that the four of them could have the pleasure of sliding down together.
This is where you learn to pull people up, not push them down.
Many of our campers find that they read a whole lot more during the summer because there’s no TV, playstation or Madden Mobile to play in the evenings. It’s a great way to prepare for bed, but it also means that they often breeze through the books that they brought with them for the summer in the first week or two. This year I brought up a couple hundred of my comic books and made them available for lending, which has resulted in a massive surge in reading comics, and a sharp decline in missing moms and dads in the moments before bed. These guys are a small percentage of boys and girls happily falling asleep at night to the adventures of Bart Simpson, Betty and Veronica, Batman and the X-Men.
This is a place to learn that most of life’s problems have creative solutions.
At lunch the Camp Leadership Team was in the midst of a funny conversation when Head Counselor Courtney’s walky talky went crazy with the sounds of little girls cheering. She inquired to see who it was, and it turned out to be our Evergreen Freshmen on the top of Mount Kearsarge. They had spent the morning hiking to the top, and while looking out over the better part of NH they realized that they could see Camp. Hoping the signal would carry they decided to reach out to us! The entire Leadership Team started cheering back, and the girls squealed with delight as they heard our voices.
We love feeling so close, so deeply connected to all of our campers.
In a recent blog there was a photo that was taken on the Kenwood Seniors climb up Mt. Washington. It was of a mother moose and her calf crossing a stream. Today, the guys on the trip presented me with this film that they shot of that moment, and edited into a short video in our Film department. Watching it, and realizing that our 13-year old boys and their counselors appreciated this moment as much as they did, made me so proud of them. Right now our Evergreen 1st Year Seniors are on the same trip, and I can’t wait to hear about the special moments of their adventure.
Summers here really help you learn to appreciate the beauty of the natural world around us.
Dinner tonight was amazing. Braised beef tips with oven roasted potatoes and delicous steamed vegetables. There was also a quinoa salad and the salad bars were brimming with fresh greens. I started hearing cheers and applause as the dessert was served, and then discovered why. Crepes with fresh strawberries and a light chocolate sauce. Unreal.
Last but not least, my wife Deena and I decided to go on a little adventure this evening. With our Evergreen Freshmen camping out on the mountain we packed up my guitar and surprised them just as the sun was setting. We gathered the girls and their counselors around the campfire to make s’mores. Afterwards, while Deena tucked the girls into their sleep bags for the night I walked around playing songs by Joni Mitchell, John Prine and the Allman Brothers. By the time the third song was done almost all were sound asleep.
I love that camp gives our children so many opportunities to explore the world beyond their immediate comfort zones.
There’s no way to capture in a single blog the countless number of special moments that occur each day here at our brother-sister summer camp in NH, but it is fun to try to share just some that I saw with my own eyes as I went around today.