The importance of unplugging over the summer at overnight campJuly 1, 2016
Today was a glorious day at camp. We woke up to bright sunshine and few clouds, and almost zero humidity. When I left my cabin at 7am there were already kids awake and outside. In both our boys’ and girls’ camps the cabins have space to hang out and socialize, and this is especially important for our early risers who need to do so without waking their bunkmates up. All of our girls’ lodges have living rooms with couches to sit on and gab, and our boys’ bunks have front decks for doing the same. Most mornings the kids who wake up early use these communal spaces to play cards, quietly read a book, and just have fun socializing. Because they have no electronics at camp to turn on or play with, they actually have to interact with one another. This leads to countless more opportunities to have fun and discover new friendships.
Breakfast was absolutely delicious. Our amazing kitchen team keeps finding new ways to improve on the first meal of the day. Today we had a choice of hot scrambled eggs, 4 different types of fresh berries, homemade blueberry muffins, and a casserole made of sauteed peppers, thin sliced potatoes, and gruyere cheese. It was incredible.
Today most of our chefs had their day off, so we deviated from our regular schedule of meals in the dining hall. At lunchtime we had a picnic on the grass, and enjoyed make-your-own deli sandwiches and all sorts of fresh salads. For dinner the counselors grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers while the kids used the free time to play games like can jam, pingpong, tennis, and run the bases. For a generation that is so used turning on their handheld devices during free time our girls and boys have already figured out how much happier life can be when you totally unplug.
Every free moment of the day I saw girls ranging from 8-15 on our swing sets. They were laughing and getting to know each other better, and having the sort of unstructured fun that is such an important part of growing up. The same was also true in Kenwood. I’m not sure I ever saw the swings and ping pong tables without kids using them. And many were excited to use the new pingpong table that the Kenwood Seniors made during the last few days. They placed it adjacent to our big gym so that brothers and sisters could play together during Free Play together in our designated co-ed space. I love how thoughtful our kids can be!
Much of Evergreen was out of Camp today. Deena and Courtney led all of Junior Camp on a beach day, and it was perfect weather for it. All morning and afternoon they played frisbee, built sandcastles, and swam in the cool blue waters of Lake Winaupesaukee.
While they were out the Kenwood Freshmen and the Big Brothers went for an afternoon of bowling and ice cream. Just as with our girls yesterday, the Big and Little Brothers all had a fantastic time together, and at evening assembly all of them wanted to tell me how much they love the person that they were paired with. In modern life it can be rare for teens and elementary school aged kids to spend any time together, and both groups have so much to learn from each other. Our Hut 6 boys are showing themselves to be terrific leaders and mentors, and these relationships will no doubt help each of our Freshmen continue to feel nurtured in their new camp home.
Evergreen’s evening activity was called “Spirit Night”. The bunks were placed onto either the Green or Gold team, and after getting into their most spirited camp outfits, each team worked at singing with the greatest amount of enthusiasm and flair. Learning and singing camp songs is silly fun, but we also know that it’s another important way to help our girls feel like they are a part of the Evergreen Sisterhood.
In Kenwood the evening activity was called “Hobby Night”, which may be the most popular night of the week for our boys. With so many passions to pursue here, our boys love having a night to focus on whatever they want.
For many campers Hobby Night is about extra time to work on a particular skill. This evening our instructors and coaches were running clinics for lacrosse, soccer, baseball, and tennis. Our art teachers had their studios open as well, and campers were getting extra help learning to throw on the potter’s wheel, edit a movie, build rustic wooden furniture, design their own comic books and Pokemon cards, and silk screen t-shirt in arts and crafts. We also offered bocce (aka, lawn bowling), tubing, cooking, gaga and an activity that is once again becoming hugely popular at Camp: fishing!
As the sun was setting over Eagle Pond more than a dozen boys and their counselors stood quietly on the docks, casting their lines out. Some caught a few while others maybe got a nibble, but all seemed so incredibly content to have this precious time to commune with nature in relative quiet.
Days like today, filled with picnics and beach trips and friends singing in unison demonstrate the power of unplugged summers, and are such a clear reminder that our children really do need prolonged time away from the mobile devices that are so often ever present in their lives.