Week Two at Camp

July 14, 2018
The Nature Place

Talk about some beautiful camp weather! Our whole second week of camp has consisted of cool mornings, warm afternoons, and bright, blue skies. Over the week, we had our eyes toward the sky, looking up to spot the few clouds that ‘snuck in’ now and again.

The theme of this past week was Branch Out. Campers and staff were encouraged to try something different, to extend out of their comfort zone, make a new friend, go out on a limb, to grow and stretch. Naturally, the week was also filled with all things tree and branch-related: nests, birds, squirrels, leaves, stems, sticks, twigs, and more! In fact, during one Morning Share we had four “expert researchers” share with us about which term they believed to be the proper name for those “things” on a tree–‘branches’, ‘limbs’, ‘sticks’, or ‘bows’. Each expert had their own firm opinion as to which word was correct. Luckily, the confusion was settled during the next Morning Share, when a rapper appeared and rapped his way through the controversy, bringing all parties together.

Some Quotable Quotes from the week:

  • Campers were making animal noises and it was getting really loud. A counselor said “now everybody be a rock” and the group became instantly quiet.
  • Bill Robinson’s animal program was going along quite well when he brought out a bird he had trained to hop into its cage. A camper said, “I need to train my brother to do that!”
  • Around a campfire on an overnight, a new camper said, “I’m grateful for my family and my friends… and all of you are my friends!”
  • A camper in woodworking, aware of the loud noise in the woodworking shop, said, “I wish we were making ear muffs.”
  • After learning about how the female tarantulas eat the males, one camper said, “When I get married, I will not eat my husband!”
  • Getting off the bus at camp, one camper said, “Goodnight to the past and good morning to the future, that’s what I say!”

Here is a glimpse at some of this past week’s activities:

  • In Music, campers branched out into other activities in a surprising way. They learned about invasive species and then wrote songs that they sang to ‘invade’ other groups and activities. Much fun was had!
  • In Nature with Ed, we made stick sculptures throughout campus, in sand boxes, in the woods, anywhere we could! I was amazed how all campers, of varied ages, really got into this project.
  • In Nature with Alex, campers learned about the life cycle of trees, and began to distinguish between different types of leaves. We wondered at the silvery glimmer of jewelweed held underwater, and learned about how to use it if we get any bites or poison ivy. Campers also heard the Hopi story of Coyote Woman.
  • In Nature with May campers played the ‘web of life’ game, learned all about snakes and bats, played snake/bat games, and told many tree riddles.
  • In Cooking, campers made vegetable/legume/potato dishes, and branched out of their culinary comfort zones by exploring some unusual seasonings. Younger groups made guacamole and tortilla chips, mid-aged campers (not middle-aged campers in their 50’s…) made a variety of vegetarian spreads and dips, and older groups made potato ‘burgers’ with Indian seasoning and cilantro and peach chutney.
  • In Outdoor Skillz, campers explored different methods of making fire – ranging from matches to using bow drills. Collecting proper materials, building and lighting well-built structures, and the one-match fire challenge were some of what we did.
  • In Art this week, campers learned about the Indian art of kolam. Using natural materials like rice, birdseed, and chalk, campers created beautiful mandalas, symbols, and pictures all around camp. Campers also made bubble wands out of branches, as well as collected materials to make trolls.
  • In Drama, campers formed invisible webs out of branches, listened to the sounds make by trees overhead, used stumps and sticks as prop prompts, incorporated tree and branch puns into skits, and worked with imaginative evolution – from seed to root to trunk to branch to a mighty oak.
  • Outragehisss Pets brought us a fennec fox, a tree frog, a tarantula that ended up on a counselor’s head, a bearded dragon, and the cutest, dust-bathing chinchilla.
  • In Games this week, campers played a cool, creative game of non-competitive, non-moving basketball, where two campers hold hula hoop ‘hoops’, and everyone else, spread across the large field, has to pass the ball along and get it to one of the ‘hoops’ without anyone moving their feet.
  • In the garden this week, campers identified all sorts of medicinal plants, made sun tea, and of course did some weeding, watering, and transplanting.

Hobbies this week included animal exploration, climbing, drumming, extreme mucking, knife skills, farm, music olympics, note holders (woodworking), making pumpkin ravioli, skit builders, wall hangings, wild food foraging, making magic boo boo cream, and stick masks.

There were many onsite overnight camping trips on our Mary Dailey field. These onsite overnights solidify basic camping skills, and are full of magic. The fireflies rival the stars in twinkling brightness, the crickets and birds sing sweet twilight songs to ready campers for bed, and the morning sun comes in over the treetops with the promise of a new, full day at camp ahead. Our onsite overnights are filled out by a visit from Paul Tappenden, wild food forager, and by Scott Louis, who brings campers knowledge, stories, and songs about the stars gleaming overhead.

Getting sticky on an overnight

Next week at camp is themed Be’an Green. Besides fun with vegetables in the garden, at the farm, and in the kitchen, we’ll explore what it means to live greenly on the earth, sustainably and with respect. I have a feeling it will be a pretty corny week, with plenty of bad vegetable puns.

Next week also finds groups I, J, K, and L sailing the sloop Clearwater, three hours on the Hudson River learning all about the river’s ecosystem and history.

Our Cedar Pond canoeing overnights begin next week. Groups learn canoeing skill on a beautiful peninsula in Harriman State Park, right on lake Tiorati. Besides beginning our canoeing adventures, there are four onsite overnights, three backpacking trips, and two day hikes coming up next week.

The week will conclude with a performance by the wonderful environmental performance art group Arm-of-the-Sea Theater.

Harvesting garlic
Birds with Brian Robinson

This summer, we’ve been happy to bring back our optional lunch program through our neighbor, the Threefold Cafe. The cafe has worked hard to create a lunch program that lives up to our sustainability standards, and besides that, their food is super yummy! You can find out more about the cafe camp lunch program here.

We’re just four short weeks away from the end of camp, and it’s hard to believe how quickly this time passes when we’re having so much fun! If you’d like to enroll in our one-week offerings that take place that week after The Nature Place has ended, August 13th – 17th, the time is now. You can see information about Farm & Garden DaysArt & Earth, or Passages, and of course you can be in touch with us if you have any questions.

I hope your family has been enjoying camp as much as I have. What a pleasure and privilege it is to be learning and playing outdoors, with friends, all summer long!

See you next week,