Amazing evening activities at our brother-sister summer campJuly 21, 2015
I spent a lot of my day asking campers questions about their summers. It helps give me lots of individual data points about life here, and also helps me gets a sense of how the entire community feels about life at our brother-sister overnight camp. This year one of the responses I have heard most often it “the evening activities are amazing!” As a camp director, that makes me really happy.
Our boys’ and girls’ head counselors try to make every night of the summer special, and different from the rest of the weekday schedule. Tonight, in Evergreen, our girls had an event they look forward to all year long: 50’s Night. All day our 12-year old girls had been working with Courtney, our head counselor, to plan this party. They helped make decorations, planned a series of dances and games, created a menu, set up the lighting, and made a soundtrack.
At 7:30 a parade of young women arrived at the theater tent decked out in their best Sock Hop attire. Some wore poodle skirts and pink satin jackets, while others sported jeans and rolled up white sheets, greased back hair and painted on mustaches.
All night they danced, had hula-hoop contests, and just enjoyed being silly together. And unlike any middle school dance that I’ve ever attended, no one was sitting on the side or feeling left out. EVERYONE was involved and everyone was having a good time. When I walked into the theater the entire girls’ camp was on the stage singing along to “Come Go With Me” by the Dell Vikings. Where else does such a thing happen these days?
Evergreen has so many wonderful evening activities geared just for our girls. There are evening activities like 50’s night, Lip Sync night, the Luau, or Night Under the Stars. All of these, along with the different campfires, are planned and run by the individual age groups. Each of these special events are designed to help our girls feel like they are a part of a sisterhood that wants them be their silliest, funniest, least inhibited, and least self-conscious. Planning and participating in these nights teaches our girls how to be leaders, how to work together on a group project, how to put creative ideas into practice, and how to have a really good time, even when you are a little nervous about trying something new. These evening activities are a big part of what makes Camp Evergreen such a wonderful place to be a girl.
Kenwood has its own special and beloved nights as well. There’s Relay Shmeelay, Watermelon League, Treasure Hunt, and many others. Tonight was Hobby Night, maybe 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, tennis, and basketball. 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.
One place that is always busy on Hobby Night is the music building. Tonight, Music James had a band practice with an 8-piece camper combo. These campers, ages 8-10, have been collaborating for the last three weeks on a song called “Cheerleader”. You would not believe how far they have come in such a short period of time! Their rhythm section kept good time, the keyboard player had the chords down, and the trumpet player knew his horn charts. Oh, and the lead singer was able to belt out the lyrics.
I loved watching them play it through, discuss what sounded good or what they could do better, and then try it again. And again. They took each other’s feedback, adapted and adjusted, and then tried to sound even better.
One bunk member is not pictured because he got a phone call from home
Up on Senior Hill I also had the pleasure of watching one other incredible group activity tonight. Not all of Hobby Night is playing traditional sports or working in the arts studios. Because this is about pursuing your passions we had groups of campers and counselors playing bocce, chess, wiffle ball, and even having a Magic cards tournament. But what I saw in Hut 4 blew me away. Facing a summer unplugged from the world of video games and ipods, a group of boys had spent the last few weeks creating their own multi-player role playing board game. In Arts & Crafts they made a board and figures, and over many, many rest periods had developed a full roster of characters, attributes, statistics and more. Tonight, their fantastic creation was finally ready, and they sat down to play. It was creative and fun and you could tell that everyone involved (including their counselor) was having the best time.
This is what we mean when we say that our camp teaches children 21st century skills. Through fun activities like putting on a costumed dance night or working together on a rock band, or simply living in a bunk and trying to figure out how to manage their free time, our campers have the opportunity to get better each day at the skills they will need to be successful throughout the rest of their lives. And wonderfully, they all experienced tonight’s evening activities are pure fun with their best friends.
What could be better than that?