When I look at our program catalog, I'm continuously in awe of the wide ranging variety of activities kids can do here. In a single day, a camper in Base Camp might move from their swimming lesson to the craft studio, to the climbing wall and then to the dining hall for lunch. After which they may choose archery or a zip line elective, produce a video short, or learn cartoon sketching. I love that kids have a well -rounded experience, have choice and freedom, take risks and try something new.
But I'm here to say that so much of the magic that happens at camp happens during the moments in between. Navigating relationships, managing transitions, and regulating the ebb and flow of the day's schedule are an artful process here at Summer Fenn. We recognize that sprawled in the grassy field during elective choosing, or hanging out at the canopies during pickup, or casually walking from the archery range to the dining hall; these are the best opportunities of all. They're opportunities to build relationships, to talk and listen, to flex the muscles of autonomy and connection.
It is in these moments, in between the busy-ness of activity, that we learn the most about our campers, when they reveal their own quirky sense of humor, share the topics they're currently obsessed with (Star Wars anyone?); It's when friendships are built and self-awareness is cultivated.
Admittedly in some other camp and rec programs my own kids attended in the past, I noticed these in between moments become the staff's mental break, a time to punch out and get ready for the next important thing on the schedule. But we know better. We know that these pauses in the active day ARE the next important thing.
A walk back to the dining hall when the counselor notices a particularly fidgety group suddenly becomes the silly stop and go game of “run and yell”- an important way to guarantee a calmer environment at lunch. The morning canopy at drop off is a critical time for our staff to walk through the elective and lunch choices for a camper who struggles with transitions. And more often these moments are simply a time for kids and counselors to enjoy each other’s company, and be present for all the in-between magic that makes camp so special. This season, and every one after, we’ll be encouraging our campers all the way up the ropes course, and across the playing fields, but we’ll also be taking the time and care for all the special moments of a Summer Fenn day.