On a damp Monday morning, Senior Camp gathered in the forest alongside Dexter Pasture to participate in Treetops’ annual chicken harvest. A “challenge by choice,” participation in chicken harvest is optional. This is always a day of mixed emotions; sadness and uncertainty intermingle with respect for our chickens. In the words of Treetops farm manager Katie Culpepper: “We feel reverence for the birds that are giving their life to sustain us, for the process of providing food for our community, and for the campers and counselors who allow themselves to be a part of this powerful morning.” Such an experience often brings a sense of empowerment and a desire to express oneself, and campers were eager to share their reflections with the community. At Treetops, campers learn to trust themselves and each other, pushing through challenges to broaden their horizons in new and unexpected ways.
Such growth was also evident this week at the Junior Camp talent show. A supportive audience encouraged even our most tentative performers to take center stage, where they excelled at an array of talents, including Chinese yo-yoing, joke telling, and singing. A flutist, accompanied by a camper and counselor on “piano four hands,” delighted everyone with a lively rendition of Heart and Soul. Another child performed Edelweiss as a violin solo—the velvety melody sending shivers up our spines.
With each passing day, children realize how deeply we celebrate exploration and creative expression. They begin to push their own boundaries, embrace new possibilities, and see themselves in creative ways. Experiences such as chicken harvest are tactile, hands-on encounters that inspire growth and self-expression.
At Treetops, there are no pre-formed kits; our farm, fields and forest provide a bounty of materials. This week alone, campers tried dying wool shorn from our sheep, felting a colorful map of the Children’s Garden, collecting and pressing wild flowers to make decorative paper, harvesting currants for jam, and much more. With ample inspiration from nature, children at Treetops inspire each other, allowing ideas to come to life and transforming materials all around them into works of art.