What’s more fun than wrestling in 1,200 lbs of Jell-O at summer camp?July 17, 2015
It’s an age old question: what IS more fun than our camp’s special event of wrestling in 1,200 lbs of Jell-O? The answer is nothing, but I’ll get back to that later. It was another hot and sunny day here at our summer camp in NH, and we had about 1,000 different activities, tournaments and adventures going on.
Our boys were involved in the finals of a multi-stage 12 and Under Baseball tournament, along with the 15 and Under Golf tournament for camps in the area. Sadly, I wasn’t able to see either team play, but the word from their coaches is that they played their hearts out. Which is good, because both teams came home with 1st place wins! Acka-lacka Ching, boys! We’re certainly proud of the scores of the games and matches, but more importantly, we are proud of how hard you all worked leading up to today!
We also had a 3 different Evergreen teams at a massive, multi-camp Dance tournament. Led by our head of Dance, Logan Mitchell, our girls spent the last 2+ weeks working day after day on their choreographed routines. And it paid off for them, too, as they came home with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place wins. Cha-Hee, Cha-Hah girls!! We know how hard you practiced, and it really paid off.
Back at Camp we had a lot going on as well. Kenwood Seniors were playing some mighty fine street hockey in the Gym just after breakfast.
Just outside the Gym a large group of Senior boys was playing an extremely intense game of Gaga.
I spent almost an entire period at Gymnastics, watching our Freshmen girls try out the vault and the uneven parallel bars. Some of them are starting to get REALLY good at this sport!
As with on every warm day this summer, our girls were down at the Evergreen waterfront, having a ton of fun on the Rock-it. You can actually hear the laughter from 100’s of yards away as girls do their best to make this massive aquatic seesaw send their friends tumbling into the water.
At the Kenwood Waterfront today I saw about half a dozen boys successfully water ski for the first time. One of our boats has a long metal pole on its side, and campers just learning to ski can hold on it, rather than try to maintain their balance holding onto a rope. The pole also keeps the skier closer to the instructor, enabling the instructor to give more helpful commands. Watching camper after camper achieve what is for so many campers a major goal of the summer all in one hour was really amazing!
And we weren’t just playing sports today. There was a lot of fun and creativity in our art studios. In photography campers were learning about depth of field, and how to take close ups of flowers and bugs while maintaining a sharp focus.
Using Photoshop campers were also learning how to superimpose their faces on their sports heroes to make their own silly versions of baseball cards and famous sports pictures.
We also premiered a new forum for musical performance today. For more than 10 years we have put on a multi-hour music festival each summer called Hollowpallooza. It’s one of the highlight events of the summer, but in recent years we’ve had a number of kids say to us “I’m just not sure I want to perform on such a big stage in front of the entire camp”. So James, our incredibly nurturing music counselor, put forth an idea: what if we had an open mic coffee house-style event during some of the Thursday lunch picnics? We thought it was a great idea and today was our first one.
For those who haven’t been to our campus before, across the front entrance to our dining hall is an enormous deck connected to our theater. James and Rob, our counselor of all things tech, set up a PA system, amps, and a mixing board. Kaitlin, one of our film counselors, designed a logo and had an 8-ft banner created. When the kids arrived for lunch this is what they saw:
And while we sat outside on a beautiful NH summer afternoon we were serenaded by campers of all ages. Some played guitar to accompany a friend who was singing. Others played a piano composition. Scott and I jammed out on a Grateful Dead song. Even though there were just as many people in the audience it somehow felt more intimate, and more accessible for some of our budding musicians.
Immediately after this first Open Mic event was over we had solo artists and groups clamoring to get on the list for next week. We love this new idea of James’, and love that we have yet another venue for our campers to showcase their talents and passions!
Tonight’s evening activity for our girls was an old Evergreen tradition called Dutch Auction. Rather than showing up with the most money, each bunk attempted to bring as many random items with them as they could carry in the hopes that something they brought would be on the list of items read off by the auctioneer. This event is pure K&E: it’s funny, it’s collaborative, and it’s all about creative problem solving. And the girls absolutely loved it.
Tonight was Kenwood’s turn for Jell-O Wrestling. Just like with Evergreen, our maintenance department covered mattresses on a blue tarp and placed a large inflatable pool on top, and then filled it with about 1,200 lbs of beautiful, mult-colored gelatin. Suddenly, in the middle of the Hollow, we had a make shift Jell-O Wrestling Ring and it was time for one of the best special events of the entire summer.
Running tonight’s event, I got to see our boys’ camp at its best. In most of the rounds the campers were the same age, but the players weren’t always evenly matched. Some were taller or significantly stronger. And yet it did not seem to make a difference. Every one of our wrestlers knew from the outset that this event was about having silly, goofy, gooey fun, and nothing more. Throughout the event I saw campers ham it up, take outrageous leaps head first into the goo, and just make this event as fun and inclusive as possible. It was simply wonderful to watch yet another example of how our kids so understand the culture of kindness and brotherhood (or, in Evergreen’s case, sisterhood) we are trying to create here.
While Kenwood’s Jell-O wrestling is similar to Evergreen’s, it has one unique facet: celebrating its 30th year, a 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.
Beginning with our youngest brothers, each team got up and gave it their all. And yet they also had big, beaming smiles on their faces as they grappled with their Kenwood friends. Covered head-to-toe in ice cold Jell-O, they giggled and cackled as they tried to take down their friends, or just maintain balance.
16 pairs of brothers wrestled tonight, and not all of the matches were even. In some the luck of the draw matched a Senior against a Junior, or even an Inter. And in these lopsided groupings the older, stronger camper always knew exactly what to do. The audience roared with every pratfall or exagerated body slam of a teen by an 8 or 9-year old. Tonight we saw our boys at their best (and funniest).