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The first full day of the summer of 2019

Today was the first full day of the summer, and what a fantastic day it was! We woke to Scott’s traditional announcement “everybody up…it’s going to be a BEAUTIFUL day today. Rise and shine!” And for most of the day it really was. It was hot and sunny throughout the morning, and while there was a short rainstorm just after dinner, otherwise it was a beautiful day to be outside playing.

Even before reveille many of our youngest campers were outside playing in their bunk areas. It was great to stand back and watch new and veteran campers already getting along so well, whether they were playing games or just sitting and getting to know one another. Chef Charles and his team made us a fabulous breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, and a wide assortment of fresh fruit. Claudia, our new chef for people with food allergies, made homemade waffles and scrambled eggs without milk or cheese.

After morning assembly everyone went back to their bunks for cleanup and to get ready for activities. And boy were there a lot of great activities! Take a look through the slideshow of just some of the 35 different sports, arts, waterfront and adventure activities took place today.

After such an incredible first full day of Camp we capped it off by having two of our campers’ favorite evening activities: Kenwood played Capture the Flag, and Evergreen had its ceremonial Opening Campfire.

It’s always so much fun to watch all of our boys come together for this first all-boys event of the summer. From the opening whistle to the final 10-second countdown, campers were on that field running and playing their hardest. From the sidelines we watched as they sprinted across the field with flags in hand, leaping across the finish line in an attempt to score, or diving mid air in an attempt to stop the other team from gaining any points. Coaches had devised different strategies, plays and even code words to help marshall their efforts. For the first game of the summer so many took it incredibly seriously, and yet simultaneously everyone was able maintain the perspective that this was a game amongst friends. So our boys ran their hardest and certainly wanted to win, but so many of them also walked off of the field laughing and joking with their arms around their buddies on both teams. That’s the very essence of the Kenwood experience.

Tonight in Evergreen our eldest campers (a group called Juniper) led our young women in a beautiful ceremony just as the sun was setting over our lake. They read poems and talked about important concepts like truth, spirit, and knowledge. Scott and I were invited to play our guitars and lead the girls in singing. Scott played “Danny’s Song”, and I could barely hear him because so many Evergreen campers and counselors knew the words and sang along. It was very moving to watch as they sat with their arms around each other and swayed to the music. I sang a song that I brought to Evergreen’s campfires for the first time last year: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.

After we sang Deena, Jacki and Courtney stood up and talked about the crucial life lessons that they had learned growing up here. They also talked about how precious the relationships are that they have made in their 32, 48 and 19 respective years as members of the incredible Evergreen community. It was a night of expressing deep and meaningful emotions.

Evergreen’s campfire has a particular tradition that I have always loved, and each year that I watch it I get a little choked up. As our Juniper leaders celebrate the virtues all Evergreen women strive to embody, they invite brand new campers up to read poems in front of the entire camp. After completing the readings the new campers are invited to light a candle on the Ceremonial Evergreen Tree.

Each time I see this tradition I think about how nervous our new campers must be at the start of the summer (I know I was 30+ years ago), and how incredible it must feel to be recognized and included in such a special ceremony. How powerful a message it must be for each new Evergreen camper to see that no matter how sacred the tradition it always includes a balance of new and veteran community members. It is such a clear signal to all that “You belong and always will from this day on.”

Evening activities like Capture the Flag and our Opening Ceremonial Campfires are really important for every member of our community, but especially our new campers. The time we spend together at events like these gives our campers a clear understanding of what our shared values are, and also a sense of belonging that is so fundamental to what our camp is all about. Seeing how normal and accepted it is here for our leaders, counselors and even campers of all ages to be vulnerable and real with their emotions helps every member of this community know that they can be that way too, and that it will ultimately lead to deeper, more meaningful friendships that truly last a lifetime.

With all of the great and meaningful moments of today I also want to make sure to share this video wrap up of our Opening Day events that took place yesterday. As you’ll see, our campers started having fun the moment they stepped onto our beautiful New Hampshire campus.