We’re in this together


Yesterday I spent some time bouncing from village to village, checking in with all of our campers and staff. Meandering between villages, I witnessed something pretty special. A counselor, headed out on time off, noticed a camper sitting by himself. The counselor changed direction mid-step and headed towards the isolated camper. It turns out the camper was feeling a bit homesick. The counselor employed some textbook homesick counseling skills: listening to the camper empathetically and then helping the camper re-engage with his peers. 

Our counselors work impressively hard to provide fun, impactful moments for our campers. And while the work is rewarding, it is also exhausting. So, when their time off comes around, they are stoked for an opportunity to take a break and recharge so they can hit the ground running again the following day. So this guy, a first year junior counselor, returning to camp after years as a camper, was probably pretty excited for some relaxation. However, when he saw that camper sitting alone, he didn’t hesitate for a second. He saw a camper who needed support and put that camper’s needs above his own. It was a top notch counseling moment, and also an illustration of one of camp’s tenets: we care for one another.

And it’s not just the counselors…

In the mornings here at camp it’s not uncommon for our early-risers, typically Swamper and Logger campers, to congregate on the Big House porch before the wakeup bell rings to read, chat, or play some quiet games. (Though I have to admit, they sometimes stretch my understanding of the definition of quiet!) Yesterday morning was no different. Sitting in the office I was lucky enough to catch another one of these moments of compassion right outside the window. 

A couple of fourth grade campers sat across from one another as one detailed to the other his struggle with homesickness. The other boy listened empathetically and when the homesick camper finished sharing, he jumped in with some of the exact same techniques I saw that counselor use as I roamed around camp yesterday. Let me remind you: this camper is a FOURTH GRADER! He encouraged the homesick boy to think of all of the exciting events on the horizon: a village barbeque, wannado (an evening activity where counselors have the opportunity to create programming based on their unique interests), and the first Sunday of the summer. (Sundays are a unique day, and, for many, a highlight of the week, but we’ll get to that in another update!) He told his friend that if he were to dive into camp’s program, by doing activities he loved and trying new things, he’d start to feel better. Again, I’ll reiterate, THIS CAMPER JUST FINISHED FOURTH GRADE! I mean, are you kidding? That camper showed his friend some real empathy, demonstrated maturity beyond his years, and also clearly gets what we’re trying to do here: create a community that thrives on compassion and care.  Another illustration of one of camp’s tenets: we care for one another.

How special is it that we get to spend our summers in our little nook in northern Wisconsin, creating our own supportive community? For some campers, the first few days of camp can be a little tricky, whether it’s their first summer or seventh, but in the radical utopian experiment that is summer camp, we rally around those who need support. I hope these anecdotes illustrate the tone of our community after only a few days of camp. It’s feeling great up here and we’re only just getting started.

All is well in the Northwoods