Happy Fourth of July! I woke up this morning to see my beautiful red, white, and blue hydrangea in full bloom in my front yard. We are feeling more like ourselves this session. This first week has been pretty normal. However, normal for camp still gives us ups and downs with a mixture of the predictable and the not so predictable. It is the ability to find the joy in both that keeps us going.
When I need a little peace, I sit on the side porch of the office and call the chickens. The campers delight in seeing the birds race to me. I have been teaching some of the girls how to have a chicken eat out of their hands. It takes a little patience and being very still, such great lessons for today when we all seem to be racing through life. You can have great conversations about chickens: their personalities, their behaviors and whether or not they have taste buds (about 300 compared to our 10,000).
We have had several baby chicks hatch out this year, and they are all now old enough to have made their way down into camp. The girls have to navigate a chicken obstacle course to get past the office on the way to activities! Interestingly, the chicks are five different sizes. Several hens hatched out chicks over 5 weeks, but only one hen decided to play mom. Who would have thought chickens could prompt so much contemplation and curiosity? I love it when the campers bring new finds to me. We work together to identify spiders, moths, butterflies and snakes. I like to show the girls how to tell male spiders apart from females. Poisonous versus non-poisonous snakes is also a great lesson. Yet more reasons I love my job.
What I appreciate most about camp is watching the girls find pleasures in the simple things: their surroundings, their cabinmates, their counselors and their experiences. During free time, the Gaga Ball pit is constantly filled with girls. You will also see new friends playing tennis or badminton while waiting for the lunch or dinner bell to ring. An entire cabin can be found swinging in the hammocks along with their counselors while talking through their day. We offer many opportunities for cabins to take special trips or do fun activities together. You should never miss an opportunity to dance in the rain. Perhaps a flashlight hike is in order tonight?
When you ask the girls why they keep returning to camp, it always comes back to the friendships they make. Sure activities are great, but it is the connection we make with others that is the most valuable. The many shared experiences that happen during a camp session add depth to the relationships. The campers get to know each other by name. They cheer each other on. We build a community of friendship and support.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” Finding joy in the simple things is one of the greatest gifts of camp.