As our first full regular day comes to a close, we find ourselves happily exhausted. The majority of our cabin counselors reported an easy bedtime last night with very eager campers up early this morning to begin their day. The weather started out gray and rainy and we finished with warm, bordering on hot, and sunny. It is a thrill to hear the collective joy and the sounds of the many voices.
Of our 43 counselors for the June session, 81% are former campers or returning counselors. Our 8 new staff members are also exceptional individuals and we are proud to have them joining the Keystone Family. Led by Heidi, MED and Martha, we offered an extensive staff development program with specifics on the social and emotional health of our campers.
We are all very aware of the toll the past 15 months has had on our children. We went a long time without sharing space with new people. When we had a chance to be with others, it was in small, selective groups. Schedules went out the window, and we found ourselves doing what we wanted when we wanted. We were not pushed to do things that made us uncomfortable. We developed fears we never had before. Wearing more than leggings and a t-shirt really challenged us! We are social creatures who need to be in the presence of others, and this was repeatedly denied and minimized. Getting back to “normal” looks different for everyone. We are here to help that process. I use quotes with the word normal, because normal is a moving target. One size does not fit all! That is what makes life so great: we are each just that different from the next person. Our individuality gives richness to our relationships and strength to our community.
With the advent of vaccinations and updated CDC guidance, Keystone went from reduced capacity with numerous protocols in 2020 to far more normal in 2021. From full isolation to hybrid learning and just a small group enjoying in person education, we feel each girl has just jumped off a cliff by herself into a very large, loud, busy ocean of people. Adjustments are expected and normal. Ups and downs are expected and normal. We are back in a world of face to face interactions; our facial expressions and body language convey messages. We haven’t seen facial expressions in a long time! So much good will be forged in the nightly circle time in our cabins. The girls work through their ups and downs. They receive support from their counselors and from their fellow campers. The entire leadership team at Keystone lends our support as well.
Homesickness is present for several of our girls. They are telling us they feel stressed and anxious. Again, given their past 15 months, we find this normal. If your daughter has expressed this anxiety and stress, we have already been in touch with you earlier today. In general, we encourage you to write to your daughter about the opportunities ahead of her at camp: new friends, new activities, being outside, etc. (If we can help you in writing, just let us know) Please remember, NO NEWS is GOOD NEWS. You will hear from us only if we need your assistance. You are our partner in supporting your daughter to discover her strengths and her ability to be resilient, things she has not had to activate these past 15 months. We are cheering each of our girls on to find their best selves while they are here, and we want them to bring that strong, successful self home at the end of the session.