The history of summer camp is as deep and diverse as an ocean, full of life and a variety of characters, it contains an endless amount of history. There are so many stories that can be told within the gates of camp.
One way to leave your bit of history and to make your camp story last a lifetime is through the tradition of decorating a bunk plaque at the end of the summer. With the help of everyone inside your bunk, a plaque is given to every bunk on boys and girls side to decorate however they like to tell a story about their summer. Inside jokes and funny incidents are often inscribed on these wooden plaques, the paint depicts all the fun these campers have experienced this summer. No matter what is painted or dusted with glitter, the plaque symbolizes all the fun camp was able to provide for these campers. The plaque allows for a bunk to bond over all the good and sometimes the rough times of the summer, reminiscing over everything they have gone through together and will remember for the rest of their lives.
This tradition is so special in the way it brings all the campers and counselors together, reminding everybody of how they were able to overcome challenges and accomplish goals as a bunk, the summer wouldn’t have been the same without everyone in the bunk taking part in helping each other.
These plaques are forever hung in the Dining Hall of camp, the one place everyone is gathered for important times of the day. When you look up at your plaque from this summer or summers ago, you are able to remember all the amazing memories you have made at camp and the unique experiences you wouldn’t be able to participate in anywhere else. With your plaque, your history is forever a part of camp.
Molly M., Camper
I was very excited and nervous for my first day of summer camp. I did not now what to expect w
hen coming to camp and was nervous about what would
happen. When I came to camp and came off the bus I exploded with happiness, camp seemed so cool and fun. Campus is so pretty with the giant lake
and there are so many great snacks to eat. I quickly made a lot of friends and had so mu
ch fun with the dance specialists. The dance staff is so nice and fun to dance with, dance is my favorite activity at camp. When I grow up I want to be a counselor and a dance specialist at summer camp. I made so many memories at my first summer but my favorite memory of the summer was making it to the finals for MTV night, my counselors really pushed me to work hard and it payed off. I also learned a lot of fun things, like how to waterski for the first time. Every day is fun and full of adventure. I love all my new friends at camp and even though I was nervous at first, camp easily became my summer home. I love how much fun I get to have every day and can’t wait for next summer already.
A lot of people wonder how so many counselors return to camp every year. The answer lies in how summer camp helps counselors, whether it’s their first summer of their fifth, become better leaders when they work here. Working all summer long with campers is a challenge, but Camp really provides the guidance and support to its counselors to help them be the best at their job and help them be leaders. To have a successful summer you need to be a leader to the campers and here is how summer camp ensures every counselor a successful summer.
- Team Work of Co-Counselors: When you’re a counselor at Camp, you always work in a team with your co-counselors in your bunk. As a team you figure out how to work with the campers and help them have a fun summer, the constant teamwork molds how you become a leader.
- Find Your Voice: Communicating with campers every day and night, Camp helps you find a positive voice for the campers to follow. This voice contributes to how effective you communicate with the campers and have a successful summer when conflicts arise, and as a leader, communication is the most important aspect of a productive team.
- Understand Your Skills: Camp helps you figure out what your strong skills are when working with campers and what skills need improvement. They are always there to give you tips in how to have a better summer with your campers and want you to be a successful leader so the campers have fun.
- Keep the Motivation Going: Working day and night with the campers is a challenge, so motivational steam can run out quickly, but Camp helps counselors push through the rough times and maintain focus. Giving the counselors a hand or helping them stay positive is how counselors learn to keep going, this skill is what helps counselors become better leaders because they are ready to face any challenges.
- The Importance of Smiling: Stress and worry is a daily part of the job, but Camp reminds counselors to always keep smiling and this little habit goes a long way. Remembering to smile maintains a positive focus and makes you approachable, an important characteristic for the leader of a group.
For almost the entirety of the year, campers sit at home waiting for the summer to start. Drumming their fingers and looking back at all the fun they’ve had so far, campers dream about all the things they can look forward to once camp finally arrives. When campers are at home with wandering minds, here are the things they look forward to the most when they get to come back to Camp.
- Sleeping Bunks: Experiencing every night at Camp as a giant sleepover with your best friends is why campers daydream about being back in their bunk beds. Even when the day is over, campers are still able to have fun.
- The Lake: The sunsets, sailing, paddle boarding and water toys allow campers to splash around and have as much fun as possible in the water. The Lake is an iconic point of Camp for good reason.
- Unique Activities: Campers are able to learn many unique skills at camp from magic tricks and circus activities to cooking and waterskiing. Opportunities at Camp are not always available for kids outside the ten other months of the year.
- Their Friends: The Friendships formed at Camp are very special and unlike any other friendships you will encounter. The summer bonds campers together in a very unique that makes these friendships last way past the summer.
- Traditions: All the fun traditions Camp possesses is what makes a summer at Camp full of excitement and adventure. Becoming a part of Camp history and carrying on these traditions is what keeps the magic of camp alive.
Camp excels in providing campers with the most traditional summer camp experience of their lives, helping campers have all sorts of fun under the sun. While there are many activities and traditions campers can enjoy on campus, there are a few that require sending campers outside and into bigger fields. The Lower Camp was able to attend a professional baseball game and experience one of America’s favorite summer pastimes. Nibbling on popcorn, spreading mustard along a hotdog and root, root, rooting for home team, the Lower Camp enjoyed a wonderful night of American tradition at the baseball game. The stadium lights illuminate the campers almost as much as their smiles do as they sit back and cheer for the players on the diamond, embracing all the energy and fun of the crowd. Even though they aren’t on the field playing, they get to sing along with the chants in the stands, do the wave and laugh at the silly faces they make on the jumbotron. All the fun of the baseball game is what enables campers to transform these moments into lifelong memories. Taking the campers out to a baseball game allows them to experience a true American summer because no summer is complete without attending a baseball game and eating as many hotdogs as there are homeruns. It’s a night completely meant for the happiness of the campers. Camp goes the extra mile–or the extra base–to ensure a camper enjoys their summer and is able to look back and love their summer as much as they loved eating a baseball helmet full of popcorn.
It’s National Friendship Day and campers at Camp know how special it is to celebrate the friendships they have formed at summer camp. Campers know that summer camp is a magical place like no other, there are an infinite amount of different things to do so there are just as many ways to make memories and build friendships. When you spend an entire summer with the same people living in your bunk, friendships form just as naturally as the flowers bloom. Friendships at Camp are so special for that reason, campers spend quality time with others in large quantities of time, transforming friendships in positive ways. Campers are always able to rely on their friends to support them when things get tough or when they feel homesick, their friends are there to help them fall asleep at night or pull them back up to get back into the game. They also support each other when things are going in the right direction, cheering them on as they are winning the game or performing on stage, these friendships battle the bad and the good for the sake of each other’s happiness. Campers know they have friends to back them up and encourage them to do their best. Additionally, with the amount of silly, ridiculous and outrageously fun activities campers get to experience, campers are able to deepen the bonds of friendships when experiencing these activities together. They are able to make every moment turn into a memory because it’s with their friends. When campers look back at every sporting event during Olympics, every dance performed for Spirit of Camp or every challenge that was overcome during relay races, they look back at who was standing next to them, laughing and smiling along with all the ongoing fun. These special memories are why friendships at Camp should be celebrated, they will stand the test of time and last forever in each other’s memories.
When campers come to Camp they always brings pieces of home with them, packing pictures, stuffed animals, blankets and all sorts of objects that remind them of home and make them feel safe. Campers bring pieces of home to camp because of how much they love home and want to remember it, so when campers return home, they also want to bring pieces back that will remind them of the summer. Camp is a special place to stay for an entire summer but two months at summer camp is a shorter amount of time than ten months spent at home. To hold on to those summer memories, campers bring back handmade crafts from ceramics and woodworking to their home so they can always have a part of Camp with them. At ceramics and woodworking, campers get to build all sorts of crafts of all different sizes that symbolize their time spent at summer camp. At woodworking, campers can create welcome home signs, key holders and even mailboxes to install in their homes and when campers make these items from scratch, it makes them even more special. The hard work put into sawing and nailing the bits of wood together makes the craft much more meaningful for the camper and the new home it will stay in. At ceramics, campers will mold bowls, cups and all sorts of sculptures for their homes, glazing with detail and precision to make the item that much more beautiful. For campers to make their own art with their own hands is remarkable, not to mention that it is art that functions in their home. All these crafts the campers create for their homes is a special way for campers to keep the spirit of Camp at home with their families, crafts that will last long after a camper’s last summer.
With the endless amount of opportunities provided to campers at Camp, campers are not only constantly encouraged to set goals for themselves, but they are encouraged to achieve those same goals as well. Whether a camper decides to set a long or short term goal, Camp guides the campers to achieve them in a way that makes the journey to success that much more exciting and fun. Learning how to play piano, do a magic trick, sink a three pointer on the basketball court or standing up on water skis, the goals campers set for themselves are varied but always achievable with the support of staff and friends at Camp. Everyone is excited to help each other and push campers outside of their comfort zone to reach their goals because this is a place where everyone believes in the potential of others. Here to celebrate both the wins and losses, achievements and failures, Camp always keeps the ball rolling for campers to pursue their goal no matter how many times they fall on their journey. No one will judge a camper’s goal either because no goal is too big or too small, even if the goal is as simple as a making one new friend. Camp recognizes the amount of effort someone needs to put in to achieve a goal, understanding that it is not just the work of the camper to achieve goal, but the combined support of coaches, counselors and staff. The unconditional support of everyone at Camp is how goals are always achieved every summer.
One of the most exciting elements of Camp are the weekly stage productions among the different divisions, with the giant spotlights, intricate stage designs and lively singing and dancing, the theater produces a lot of entertainment. As the Theatre Specialist, I know my job is the best on campus because I get to go behind the scenes of all of this fun. I truly get to see what makes the show and how it gets better from start to finish. I see the best of the best. The director Jeff Moss is a legend in itself and working besides him day in and day out makes my job the best. The ability to work with every single camper is so much fun too because often enough the campers that have never been a part of a stage production or in a theatre are the ones that get the lead role in the show. Each week I see so much growth in the campers becoming more confident with their roles or abilities on the stage. One of my favorite parts of the theatre is after the show ends and the campers will say “Yes! We did it!” They give me a hug of pride, joy and relief all at once and in that moment those campers feel like they are my own kids and I am so proud of them. Those moments, combined with all the amazing elements that go into producing a show every week, is what makes my job on campus truly the best.
When I walk around campus I’m surrounded by inspiration and I’m always surprised when more often than not inspiration walks straight up to me. Taking a second to myself to appreciate the sweeping valley of trees, shades of light to dark green portray a gradient of texturized forests. It’s like looking at a landscape painting at the Metropolitan or Art Institute of Chicago, but instead of moving on to the next landscape after a few moments of silent viewing, you are alive for as long as you want inside this painting. In this case I was noticing how the trees follow a wave like pattern in the valley that mirrors the placement of slow rolling puffy clouds in the sky above when an Upper Plebe simply called out to me. “Want to join us?”
He was smiling up at me and extended out his golf club to me to take and play along with his game of golf. Standing in the grass a few feet away from he, he waiting patiently for my reply and this pause made me realize he was genuine in asking his question. Before I replied I looked back again to the driving range where many Upper Plebes were launching golf balls into the sky. I look back to the Upper Plebe and answer, “Yes, I will join you.” “Great! My name is Mason.”
Mason’s question may have been simple but his implications are much deeper. When he asked me–just another staff member that happened to walk by the golfing activity–that question, he asked more of me than just joining a game of golf. He asked me to join his friends, his community and to become a part of his summer, a time in his life he always looks forward to and regrets leaving in August. This is an honor to be invited into a child’s world and be presented with the opportunity to help him become a better individual, or sometimes to just play a game of golf.
Mason’s small act of kindness plays a huge part in highlighting what kind of special place Camp represents. This place is more than just a summer camp, it is a world where kindness, friendship, trust and the initiative to share happiness with others, regardless if you know them or not, are the pillars that hold this place up and together.