The First Day of Summer CampJune 29, 2014
An open letter about the first day of summer camp at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen in NH.
Below is a letter that was sent to all Kenwood & Evergreen parents late last evening:
It is a beautiful starry night; a perfect end to as perfect an Opening Day as I can recall. Your children are sleeping in their beds, unless they are Senior campers, who are likely still awake, talking the night away. When you last saw them, your children were speeding away from you on those big yellow Yankee Lines buses. You were likely trying to spot your child in the tinted windows for one last wave. It is never easy to say goodbye to your incredible kids, and though I believe you are confident that they are in good hands, those are tough moments. We often cry more than our children at moments like those, or do our best to hide our tears so we don’t send them mixed messages.
For your campers, those good-bye moments are often easier. In truth, “Camp” begins the moment your child steps on the bus. They are already meeting new children, reconnecting with old friends, renewing ties. They talk with counselors, sing songs, and are off on a new adventure! Their arrival at Camp is quite an awe inspiring spectacle. Our girls pour off the buses into the arms of their counselors. They scream, they cheer, they hug. It is an emotional free-for-all, in the best of ways. Our boys are just as enthusiastic. Their counselors pair up to form a long archway through which every boy passes to the cheers of the assembled crowd. It is inspiring and welcoming, and the boys beam.
We read off their names, they meet their counselors, they fly off to their bunks, hand luggage in tow, and another summer has begun! The weather was perfect, and our previously calm campus was a rumpus of activity. Groups of our younger children, led by their counselors, traversed our campus for a first day look at Camp. Smiles abounded, pick up games ensued, and suddenly our community of 200 staff was expanded to a community of 530, with an infusion of energy and joy that spread like wildfire. We assembled at the flagpole, celebrated the start of our 2014 Camp season, and sang all four of our camp birthday songs for our very first camper birthday of the summer!
(they asked if they could take a silly picture)
Next, it was onto the Dining Hall, where both main course and salad bar offerings received rave reviews from everyone I spoke with. We have been blessed by a wonderful new Head Chef and a talented kitchen staff, who have been slicing, dicing and enthusiastically preparing for the first day of Camp! Next, it was on to “Free Play”, our dedicated time each day when your children can engage in undirected, open ended play, something that is an increasingly rare commodity these days. Finally, after a brief return to their bunks, your children descended upon on huge theater tent, for our annual Opening Night “Counselor Show”.
Over the course of the last week, our bunk counselors and specialists have been putting together brief skits, performance pieces, comedy routines and the like, which we string together in a Vaudeville style show for the benefit of your children. This is a long-time tradition at Camp, and it serves three critical purposes. It is an event that brings the whole Camp together for a shared experience, building a sense of community. It is an opportunity for our counselors to show our campers that this is a place where you can take safe risks; you can be silly in front of a huge audience, and you will still be liked and even loved. And it is a deeply engrossing experience that is hugely positive, keeping those sneaky homesick thoughts away and replacing them with memories that will spark many conversations over the next few days.
Jason and I are usually the final act of the show, and each year we choose a song to sing and play on our guitars together. This year we chose “Home” by Phillip Phillips. We had planned to sing the song through a couple of times, and to bring out the whole staff for the choral parts at the end of the song. As I sang the melody and Jason harmonized, the voices of your children quickly joined us, and suddenly we found that we were leading the whole Camp in the most beautiful rendition of an already beautiful song that I have ever heard. 530 voices swelled and filled the tent, poured out the sides, and flowed across our campus. We sang and sang; no one wanted to stop, but at some point, we had to say “goodnight’ to this incredible first day of the summer.
And that was how our evening ended–530 campers and counselors coming together with one voice. They headed back to their bunks, got ready for bed, and talked about the great day we just had together, and the great days to come.Your children are asleep now, safely in their beds, dreaming of home, but also dreaming of their second home…the one they started building today, in song and in spirit, here at Kenwood & Evergreen.
Sleep well tonight…I know your children will.
With warm wishes from Eagle Pond,