Some of my favorite moments during summer are the evenings. Here at our overnight camp in NH, the evening air is usually crisp and cool without any chill to it. Because of a general lack of wind it creates a perfect atmosphere for an evening campfire, a walk with a friend, or for quickly falling to sleep. Night time feels incredibly comfortable and safe here on our campus, which is just the way we want it to be. Last night’s events with our pre-camp staff certainly reminded me of just how beautiful evenings here can be.
Campers often ask me about what life is like here during the weeks before they arrive each summer. Typically, my response is “it’s the time that sets the tone for the entire summer”.
There’s a great deal of preparation that goes into getting Camp ready for Opening Day. Buildings need to be swept out or repainted. The soccer and baseball fields need to be mowed, weeded, and the equipment put back into place. Our tennis courts need fresh layers of clay, and to have their tapes and nets put back in place. Piece by heavy piece, the docks come out of storage in the Gym and get hand carried back into the lake. This process takes weeks, and during it Camp comes back alive each year.
Every spring, a loyal group of returning counselors begins arriving just after Memorial Day, eager to help us get make this all happen. They hail from all over the United States, and this year, four continents. Not surprisingly, this group is often comprised of some of the most passionate members of our Camp community. For them, 7 weeks with the campers — along with 2 weeks of staff training — just isn’t enough time in this special place. It warms my heart every year to see who makes this annual event a part of their lives.
The days are long and usually filled with arduous work. But then each evening you can see a by-product of their efforts: a closeness has developed amongst this team of 30 or so that will have a profound and positive impact on the entire summer. The members of this group feel a bond with each other that only comes from long hours spent working together on projects that feel important to them. And with this group, getting Camp ready for the arrival of our campers is of the utmost importance.
So I watched with great joy last night I saw how our team spent their evening. Immediately after a spectacular dinner of tortellini with a homemade mushroom sauce and sautéed summer vegetables they put together a pickup game of basketball. Everyone subbed in and out, and everyone was both playing their hardest, and cheering on anyone who made a basket or a particularly good play.
Afterwards, they lit at fire at the Kenwood ceremonial campfire area. Well into the night we all shared our favorite camp stories. I also learned just how many of them visited their friends on staff over the course of the year. Hearing about Americans makings trips to the UK, or one of our unit leaders journeying from New Zealand to Iowa just to see a Camp friend made me beam. Our overnight camp community is all about helping people make lifelong friendships, and last night I heard example after example of how central that is to the lives of our staff.
As the campfire was dying down I asked the counselors to listen closely to the sounds of nature around us. Because our private lake is such a healthy ecosystem, we have thousands of frogs that live on the edges the water. For the first night this year they were out in full voice, and it was glorious. The male bullfrogs were making deep throated calls to the females, and they were responding with their sweet, high-pitched calls. It was peaceful and hypnotic, and so wonderful to hear again.
If you’d like to hear what the frogs on our lake sound like at night please click on this link below. I made this recording on my iphone!
With the fire dying down many began to walk back to their cabins for the night. Because our campus is in a lovely, secluded part of New Hampshire, the stars light up the night sky. Last night there were almost no clouds over camp, so I dragged rout our very powerful telescope, and brought a crowd of counselors with me to our largest ball field. For about an hour we tracked the movement of Mars, Venus and Juniper, and did our best to find every constellation in the sky that we knew of. It was a perfect end to a perfect day at Camp. I can’t wait to take groups of kids out this summer to count shooting stars.
There are so many things that I love about this community. The kindness, the fun, the incredible friendships that are made each summer. We often overlook the quiet, powerful moments that arise out of simply being surrounded by the splendor that is our campus in NH. There aren’t that many opportunities in life to play sports, have a campfire, and stand with friends and gaze at the stars all in one evening. Yesterday certainly reminded me of how important that is, and how fortunate we are to be able to do that here each and every summer.
Learn what our campers say about K&E changing their lives! Camps Kenwood and Evergreen are brother-sister summer camps in Wilmot, NH. Each summer we teach sports, arts, theater, and outdoor adventure while helping campers make lifelong friendships.