Week 2 Letter, 2015
We sure got into this week’s theme of ‘Stumped’! So much so that campers are noticing stumps everywhere, pointing out and telling me that this one looks like a castle and the one over there resembles NYC. We made stump people (resembling snow people); used stumps as a base for art projects; read a famous book about a stump – Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’; tried to ‘Stump-Ed’; actually watched a stump being made as Bill Reda and his tree trimming crew (with whom we have worked for years) gave many of us a lesson as we watched him take down an ash tree that was sick. We counted the rings – 59 (years old)!
An update on our upcoming ‘parenthood’: every day we’re watching our monarchs’ 18 chrysalids, trying to imagine the mysterious happenings inside. We should see the butterflies emerge next week!
Time for this week’s campers’ quotes:
After getting off the bus to begin a day hike in Harriman Park:
“Why were we dropped off in the middle of nowhere?”
A second camper replied: “We’re at The Nature Place. That’s what we do here.”
While watching the powerful wood chipper/shredder: “It’s like a paper shredder on steroids.”
Looking at dead gypsy moth caterpillars that seemed to be all ‘frozen’ on the spot as they were climbing up the trunks of many trees: “Oh, they turn into Zombies on Mondays.”
“Oh, a lady bug! I wonder how old it is?”
“Don’t you know it’s rude to ask a lady bug how old she is!”
A young camper, walking along with his group, had on his bathing suit and swim goggles and was moving his arms as if he were swimming. When asked by a camper what he was doing, another camper answered: “Oh, he’s taking the deep air test.”
A camper, while up at the farm on a rainy day, exclaimed that “All I’ve ever dreamed of was standing in the rain looking at cows.”
Some of the activities this week included:
Visits to Nature’s Playground – a ‘wild’ outdoor forested area – with stream – where campers can, under supervision and with clear physical boundaries, make forts, play games, explore nature, work things out with other campers, be still, be active, utilize their sense of wonder, laugh, make Earth Art, have opportunities for creativity, for imagination, a place to breath out.
Games included Cat and Mouse, a chase and flee game; raccoon’s circles, which encourage teamwork and communication; Parachute games, one of which had campers holding the edge of the parachute, putting a ball in the middle and everyone pulling the parachute at once and sending the ball sky-high.
Nature walks had campers exploring what’s in a stump, what grows from a stump, the animals that live within it.
At archery, campers have a bit of down time between opportunities to go up to the line and shoot. This year we have introduced make-your-own mini-golf – in the archery area – of which waiting archers can take advantage.
Music with Snoopy! had campers create a band/orchestra using natural materials. Campers took turns conducting. We played around with high and low, slow and fast, loud and soft.
Thanks to Snoopy and others we hear singing throughout camp – new songs, traditional camp songs, and songs that are completely made up to accompany whatever’s happening in the moment!
Coming from art we can see nature wands, bugs you can clip on just about anywhere, abstract themes inspired by the natural world.
Everyone loves swimming! This week saw instruction begin on the elementary backstroke.
Our weekly Friday morning story time had campers listening spell-bound to Chuck’s story about his friend Ricky deciding to become a rabble-rouser. I bet many of you hear explicit details of Chuck’s stories every Friday around the dinner table.
Animals brought in this week by both Bill Robinson and Outragehiss Pets included a bearded dragon, ball python, stick bug, hissing cockroaches, African bullfrog, a turkey vulture, eagle, owl and alligator.
Hobbies that campers could choose from on Wednesday afternoons were: Making Sushi and Lemonade, climbing, archery, magic, improv theatre, circus, troll making, nature wands, wild food foraging, Teensy Tiny Tipis, wood working, song attack, Farm, nature-made boats, stump cities.
This was the week when we started ‘The Hanging of the Ice’. This happens when temperatures get near 90. We place 25-pound blocks of ice in strong net bags up in trees. Ten cold drops on the back of a camper’s neck are reputed to keep the camper cool for the next 44 minutes.
Our Camping Department has been very busy with on-site overnights, backpacking trips and camping/canoe adventures at Cedar Pond on the shores of Lake Tiorati in Harriman Park.
What does an on-site look like?
At the end of the camp day the group heads out to Mary Dailey Field, a short walk from the main campus, but a place that is surrounded by trees and where you might think you were somewhere out in the wild. After bringing their gear to the field, campers learn about the concept of Leave No Trace camping, how and where to go to the bathroom, the lay of the land, things to be aware of. They then set up their tents. Paul Tappanden, our wild food forager, then comes and works with the campers to identify and collect some wild edibles which they then cook and serve up as appetizers to their main meal. This latter meal is made with the campers’ help. One favorite meal is quesadillas with a variety of fillings.
Clean-up time is shared by all. Ask your camper about these cleaning techniques: Swish and Swig and Duff and Buff. Evening clothes, for bugs and for cooler temperatures are then changed into. A dusk hike might be in order, which also allows us a chance to collect firewood. A campfire is started, songs sung, stories told and, if not cloudy, a visit by parent Scott Lewis to identify the summer stars, constellations and the stories behind them. A late snack of Chocolate Banana Boat might be made over the campfire. Brushing of teeth precedes the bed time of 9:45 – 10 pm.
Campers awake around 7 am to a usually dew-wet morning, eat breakfast, and then walk back to the main camp carrying with them everything from the night before. They are ready to begin the day with all of us at Morning Share.
Next week’s theme is ‘It’s About Thyme’ week. You might imagine the fodder this theme can give us as far as puns, gardens and skits.
On Tuesday, the 14th, at 7:15 pm we invite you back for our Songs Around the Campfire program. If it’s too hot we might make our fire from blocks of ice!?
Games next week promises something new and even maybe a little weird: Giants and Elves and Freedom Chicken.
Farm and Garden Days…
…is a two-week program we offer in conjunction with the Pfeiffer Center after our regular 6-week summer camp ends. It is a small program that focuses on our farm and garden. Besides learning hands-on in the garden and at the farm, campers will also have swim, games, nature explorations, stories, make pizza in the clay oven in the garden and more. Farm and Garden Days runs from August 10th through 21st, you may choose one or both weeks.
Until next Friday,