Very Happy Campers | Teaching Resilience, Creativity and AdaptabilityJuly 3, 2014
Teaching our very happy campers important lessons about resilience and adaptability
It was already hot when we woke up this morning. By 11am it was well into the 90’s and muggy. As always, our campers were total troopers, and more than once I heard someone say “hey, at least it’s not snowing!” After the winter we had in the northeast I understand the sentiment. To help with the heat, we placed these cool new misting fans on our ball fields throughout camp. They attach to a hose, and project fine water droplets into the air to help cool down our kids while they take water breaks. As you can imagine, they were a tremendous hit!
Everywhere I went today I saw great activities. Some of our Kenwood seniors were in the music building practicing a Maroon 5 number, complete with a horn section and righteous keyboards. A group of intrepid Kenwood freshmen went on an excursion with Adventure Dave to a nearby lake. After hunting for turtles and frogs they then took turns on a rope swing that enabled them to leap into the refreshing water. Every camper on the trip took a turn!
Rehearsals began today for our senior camper musical. This year it will be the hysterically funny “Legally Blond”. Throughout the morning campers were learning their songs, practicing their lines, and blocking their choreography. At the same time the camper tech crew was in the wood shop making the moveable scenery that will be a part of this incredible show. I was also able to spend some time in the Evergreen dance studio, where our senior girls dance team was practicing for their upcoming dance tournament. Last year our girls won the entire event, and from the looks of things they have a good chance of taking home another title this year!
Today was also the day that our Evergreen freshmen met their big sisters. Our freshmen are our youngest and newest campers, having just finished 2nd or 3rd grade. Our big sisters are 15-year olds in their final year as campers. The big sisters mentor the younger girls, and become a part of the larger support system that we create for our campers. After a brief ceremony where they were introduced to one another both groups boarded a bus and spent the afternoon bonding, bowling and going out for ice cream. Being a big sister is the first step in learning how to be an evergreen counselor.
Just after lunch I received a phone call from our weather monitoring service. Keeping our campers safe is always our top priority, and we always want to know if thunder and lightning is heading our way (and for how long). So for many years now we have invested in a service called Accuweather. Their computers track the weather patterns and satellite data over and around Camp with mind-blowing accuracy. The service also allows us to watch how storms are moving over our campus, and where lighting is striking over a 20-mile radius, from our office computers and iphones. So when our weatherman-on-call reached out to say “move everyone inside — there’s a big storm coming” we took it very seriously.
Thankfully, it was not much more than a lot of rain. Everyone spent a few hours inside, and in the end it turned out to be a lot of fun. Some counselors spent the time playing card and board games with their campers. Others held dance parties and lip sync contests in their lodge living rooms. One Evergreen freshmen bunk announced that they had opened a spa. Deena, of course, was happy to be their first customer.
Camp is obviously about having fun and enjoying the activities, and sudden rain storms have the potential to put that on hold. But unexpected rainy days also teach kids a number of important life lessons, like the virtues of being resilient and adaptable. When the rain arrived all of the plans for this afternoon washed away, and yet I didn’t hear a single camper complain. Instead, when we all gathered tonight for dinner I heard kids saying things like “we had such a good time just hanging out together and listening to music” or “it was nice to just have the time to sit on each others beds and read comic books”. One group of Kenwood freshmen invited me into their bunk to show me the ball game that they invented this afternoon. How special to have an afternoon where you learn that plans change, and sometimes what you do with that time is actually more fun or memorable.
Once the weatherman let us know that it was safe to go outside we made the announcement, and our kids streamed out of their bunks and lodges. Mind you, it was still pouring outside, but they wanted to play. So all over campus our boys and girls were playing football, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and even gaga soaking wet, sometimes covered in mud. As I stood outside with them I marveled at how much fun it is to be a camper here. I saw so many very happy campers today.
After dinner tonight Evergreen had one of its best evening activities of the summer: Minute To Win It. Modeled after the TV game show of the same name, this event is organized and run by our super special events coordinator Mia Bauman-Walsh.
Each bunk arrived wearing silly coordinated costumes that they had created. One bunk wore super hero capes and leg warmers. Another dressed as the minions from Despicable Me. All were funny. The bunks worked as individual teams and were given all sorts of tasks to complete in under a minute. Some initially appeared easy while others seemed impossible. Stack three granny smith apples on top of each other without them falling. Use a ping pong paddle to fan a ball across the floor. Keep 8 balloons in the air simultaneously, and periodically rotated each balloon to a different team member. With each task the campers had to test out theories and develop strategies, experiment with new ideas, and become comfortable with taking healthy (and often silly) risks. For them it was a fun time being silly with their friends, but it was also a great chance to work on their creativity, their critical thinking skills, and their adaptability. The theater was filled with laughter, team spirit and cheering all night long.
In Kenwood, both for junior and senior camp, tonight was a chance to play lots of different sports in a low-key atmosphere. Every sports field was occupied as our boys played soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, bombardment (our version of dodgeball), volleyball and gaga. Everyone just seemed to be in such a great mood, having enjoyed the afternoon of hanging out, and now getting to play in such a friendly, spirited environment.
Today was another really great day here. I’m so glad to see that even in extreme heat or torential rain (on the same day!) we have some very happy campers.