Week 4 Letter, 2015
It’s the end of Troll Week. We made trolls in art and hobby, made troll houses in the woods, saw a troll walking his pet rock (and, of course, cleaning up afterward, as all responsible pet owners do). We met the Troll Queen, danced to a troll band, learned about some things that they love to do during the Rendezvous: troll opera, trollga (with classic trollga poses such as downward troll, cat/cow/troll, and trollangle pose), troll philosophy, and more. Our languages are quite different but fortunately we have had a Troll/English interpreter with us!
Ripe blueberries were a joy to many of our day hikers and overnight campers up in Harriman Park. Yum! This week we had day hikes, 2 onsites, one 2-night backpacking trip and one 4-night backpacking trip. This last one, done by Group Q, had campers hiking the entire section of the famous Appalachian Trail in Harriman Park – close to 25 miles. It’s interesting that the first section of the famous 2,000 mile-long AT was built here in 1923.
Our canoeing and camping site in Harriman Park, Cedar Pond, was very busy – campers learning canoe safety and basic paddling strokes and exploring some of Lake Tiorati.
This coming week, our 5th week, will see more overnights as well as the beginning of our Almost Overnights. These are for our youngest campers. At the end of the day they venture out to the ‘wilds’ of Mary Dailey field, set up a tent, make dinner, watch dusk coming on, note the dew beginning to form on the grass, watch for the appearance of nocturnal animals, smell the changing odor of the air, collect some wood, enjoy a campfire and songs. Then they get picked up by their parents to go home and be tucked into their own beds.
The Barefoot Zone is next week. A chance to throw off those binders we call shoes, socks, boots, sneakers, sandals. And put those liberated feet into clay, mud, rice, sponges, peat moss, jello – yes! red and green – ubleck and more. What the heck is ubleck? Stay tuned.
Arm of the Sea Theater – Friday, July 31, 7:15 pm in the gym. Big puppets, innovative effects, costumes, important messages, understandings of how our environment works. All are welcome.
While wearing a shirt that says ‘I’m a happy camper’, the 7-year-old told us that something should be added: “even when it rains”.
Up at the farm – Farmer Charlie was talking about the cows. How it’s good to keep the horns on them. That they keep the females because they are good for milk and yogurt. A camper asked, “So, what are the boy cows good for?”
Farmer Charlie: “Hamburger.”
One of the campers asked, “Can I train to be Ed?”
Another camper responded, “No one can be Ed.”
We’ve heard this throughout the years – including this past week – from campers during a day hike or after an overnight: “This is the best day/best night of my life!”
Well, this same quote came from a COUNSELOR after an overnight: “It was the best night of my life!”
A camper saw a lawn mower cutting grass and asked, “What’s that?”
The counselor answered, “It’s a lawn mower and it cuts the grass.”
The camper replied, “But the grass is fine, it doesn’t need to be cut.”
Hobbies this week:
Forest cupcakes a la Mrs. Troll
Troll: The Musical!
Troll Hideaway – Muck Adventure
Music Scavenger Hunt
Our 30th Camp Anniversary celebration for staff will be on Saturday, August 1st. We have invited all of our staff – at least those we could find – from these past 30 years to join us. Over 200 will be coming! Many of them also sent in comments about what their their time at The Nature Place has meant to them, and how it has effected their lives. These musings will be printed and bound together in a booklet we’ll be handing out to attending staff members.
We had 2 Clearwater educational sails on the Hudson this past week. Campers raised the sails, steered the boat, saw samples of creatures that live in the Hudson River and enjoyed the magnificent weather on the ‘river that flows both ways’.
What I usually don’t describe in my Friday letters is the infrastructure that is behind and supports all the camp activities. Most of you know that we have a full-week Orientation for ALL staff before the campers come on the first day. We also have a staff meeting each morning except Friday, (when we enjoy a bagel and fruit breakfast) which can be a mini-training session, an opportunity for airing concerns, making announcements and always singing a song together.
We support the staff to support the campers by: having a half hour administrative meeting each morning at 7 am to discuss which groups or campers may need extra help or looking into that day; see what parent contacts need to be made; plan on spending time with groups to directly observe the dynamics; make time for meeting with individual staff members if they (or we) so desire; generally dealing directly with the present while looking at what’s ahead. Our small camp allows us to pay daily attention to these small and very important daily details.
We also have a weekly post-camp Thursday meeting (for some reason we call it ‘Buffing’) where we break up into groups of counselors that work with similar age campers and talk about a variety of things that may be of common concern or interest.
We are very much looking forward to the next two weeks of camp, and the following two weeks of Farm and Garden Days! This time of year we feel the summer season is too short. We are in the active camp rhythm – doing, laughing, exploring, making new friends – and it almost seems like a trick of time that we’re ending so soon!
But change happens, and we will enjoy the next few weeks while they’re full and upon us. We hope you do as well.
Until next Friday,