Trying New Things At CampJuly 16, 2013
Today seemed to be a day of trying new things at Camp. Our Evergreen Freshmen went on a day trip with Adventure Dave, and spent two hours jumping off of a bridge into a local body of water (with life jackets on, of course!), and then took turns swinging on a rope swing into a lake. One girl leapt off of the bridge 5 times! Our Kenwood Juniors had their first play practice, and started off by learning how to participate in improvisational games. I watched as they took turns creating new characters and scenes, building off of each other’s creativity and enthusiasm. They are now very excited to be a part of this year’s play. I also spent some time in the music building today and saw campers taking lessons in guitar, drums and piano for the very first time. A number of campers also went off of the zip line for the first time, including a couple of older campers who had been unsure about trying it in years past.
Our Evergreen Seniors began their 3-day expedition up Mt. Washington. This was the most advanced outdoor trip that most of them had ever been on, and while they may have been a little nervous they certainly didn’t show it. Before they boarded the bus I watched them gather on the Evergreen path for a photograph with their backpacks on, cheering and singing.
Tonight’s evening activity in Evergreen was an annual event called the Luau. Our Junior girls planned the event from start to finish, which was a big accomplishment for them. It involved music and food and games and decorations, and for many of them was the first time that they had organized anything like this. Campers of all ages came down to the Evergreen waterfront for a massive party, snacking on fresh cut fruit and homemade cookies while participating in limbo contests and dance competitions. Eventually the entire girls’ camp formed one big conga line and formed a circle around the Evergreen docks just as the sun was setting. It was a fantastic night of togetherness, created by our 12-year old girls for their Evergreen sisters.
The Kenwood Freshmen & Sophomores went on their own expedition today, exploring a series of subterranean caves. For many of them this was their first time doing anything like this, and upon their return I got the full story from them about how exciting and interesting it was (and how refreshing it was to be somewhere 20 degrees cooler on such a hot day). After the caves the boys had a picnic lunch outside, and then spent the afternoon swimming at a nearby beach. All-in-all, it was a pretty amazing experience.
Towards the end of rest period each afternoon we like to serve milk and cookies to our campers before they go back out to activities. In both camps our Junior Counselors have the responsibility of running this, but today our JC’s had the day off. I had wondered who would be filling in for them. Just before the start of afternoon activities I walked by the dining hall and saw a group of Kenwood Hut 6 boys clearly waiting for something or someone. Knowing that the JC’s were away these boys had decided to offer up their help. Even more exciting for me was their question “how do we know who has food allergies?” I took them into the dining hall and explained to them the in’s and out’s of serving safe food to our campers. They scrubbed up, set up snacks for the entire camp, and made sure that each camper got exactly what they were supposed to have. I was so proud of them, and so impressed that they were doing all that they could to make this a safe experience for the younger kids. What maturity, what caring.
Another new thing happened today at Camp: we had our first counselor donation to the Camp Museum. There is a room in our beloved dining hall filled with classic K&E memorabilia, including photos, banners, letters, and artifacts from the last 83 years of our community. Every day campers and staff take a stroll through it and walk out understanding more about the history of our great community. Cat, one of the newest members of our Arts team, and the head of Arts & Crafts, has really been impacted by her time here this summer, and to show her appreciation she gave us a gorgeous etching that she made as part of her master’s thesis project. It’s so realistic that already I’ve had two campers tell me that they thought it was a photograph. I love that even those joining our community as adults can still find it to be such a powerful experience. Many thanks, Cat, for the latest edition to our collection!
Today was also a big day for K&E in that we were visited by the American Camp Association. Every three years camps accredited by the ACA are asked to demonstrate their commitment to excellence by adhering to than 250 separate standards, focusing on program, staff training, physical and emotional health, food service, maintenance, transportation, health, aquatics, human resources, and much, much more. I am proud to say that after months of preparation our practices matched everything we had outlined in our volumes of paperwork, and Camp received as glowing report as possible!
Tonight was Kenwood’s turn for Jell-O Wrestling. Just like with Evergreen, our maintenance department constructed a make-shift wrestling ring and filled it with about 1,000 lbs of colored gelatin. Standing in the Jell-O as the referee tonight I saw something really incredible. Even when our rounds involved campers of the same age, the players weren’t always evenly matched. And yet it did not seem to make a difference. Not once did I have to say to a camper who was a little taller or stronger “ease up a bit” or “dial back the intensity”. Every one of our wrestlers knew from the outset that this event was about having silly, goofy, gooey fun, and nothing more (including me – I took a massive dive into the Jell-O and somehow had it coming out of my ears). Throughout the event I saw campers ham it up, take outrageous pratfalls, and just make this event as fun and inclusive as possible. It made me emotional to watch yet another example of how our kids so understand the culture we are trying to create here.
While Kenwood’s Jell-O wrestling is similar to Evergreen’s, it has one unique facet: an almost 30 year tradition called “The Brother’s Bunkhouse Brawl”. For the second half of every Kenwood Jell-O Wrestling each pair of brothers in the community gets to compete against the other brothers. After each round the winners stay on until some team wins in the final match. Tonight I premiered something new: going forward the winners of the BBB would get to hold up the ACKWF Title Belt (it stands for All Camp Kenwood Wrestling Federation) and have their names written inside. The crowd ooh and ahh’d as I held up this new Camp totem that would now hang in the dining hall for years to come. FYI, this belt was designed and created by our talented head of Arts & Crafts Cat. Thanks, again Cat!
We had almost 25 brother combinations wrestle tonight, and in the end it came down to the Perera’s from VT and the Emanuel’s from Rhode Island. Both sets fought valiantly, and by the end of the match every person in Kenwood was on his feet cheering. It came down to a judges’ final decision, and our unit leaders felt like one team had a slight edge on the other. The title, and the first spot on the ACKWF belt went to the brothers from Providence. A good time was definitely had by all.
We like trying new things at Camp, whether it’s new activities, new adventures, or just slight variations on things we’ve been doing here for a very long time. It’s part of how we model for our kids that taking healthy risks is a great and necessary part of life!