Camp Journal 2018: Week One

The first days of summer at Camp Treetops arrived ripe with possibility and temperatures that beckoned for a long, lingering dip in Round Lake. Such heat is uncharacteristic of the Adirondacks. Nevertheless, campers have been delighting in the sun-drenched weather. At Treetops, the joys of staying cool are particularly inventive.

Senior and junior camps celebrated this spell of spectacular weather mid-week with an evening swim and sledding on the lake hill. As if by magic, snow arrived after dinner, accumulating in a slender path down the hill—perfect for sledding. Kickboards and cardboard served as makeshift sleds with campers “racing” one at a time over the snowy trail down the lake hill.

Campers have also found other creative methods of staying cool. After collecting herbs in the Children’s Garden, a group of campers opted to make iced “solar” tea using the sun’s rays rather than a traditional tea kettle. Others wandered the shade of the surrounding forest on a nature walk, cooling off while learning how to recognize flora, like the delicate pink and white flowers of mountain wood sorrel.

Especially during stretches of hot weather, the waterfront is a hub of Camp life, and children have much to choose from. This week, campers are busy passing their “rafters and clothes liner” swimming assessments. All summer long, everyone will have a daily swim lesson, grouped by ability and geared toward individual skill development. Of course, much of the waterfront activity is simply about fun and play: doing handstands in shallow water, catching salamanders along the shore, rocking to and fro on our floating donuts.

As a venue for important camp-wide events, the waterfront provides the common bond of shared experiences. As a backdrop to the bonfire on the Fourth of July, it’s an essential piece of the summer’s first all-Camp gathering and longstanding Treetops tradition. Every year, these first days at Treetops are a time of transition. Establishing a sense of community early on is particularly helpful in easing into the rhythms and routines of Camp. 

Leaving the comforts of home takes courage. Campers arrived from places all across the country and around the world. This summer, we welcome children from countries as far-flung as Portugal, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Switzerland, China, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Georgia, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, England, and Mexico. Some campers are learning to speak English for the first time, but at Camp Treetops our common language begins with friendship. Tent-groups are the foundation for our larger community and help to form strong bonds among campers. For some, these relationships will last a lifetime. 

This first week at Camp is all about slowing down and settling in. In the evening, when the peepers start to sing, tent-groups gather for a bedtime story. Before the stars begin to rise, every child is tucked into bed. By the end of the first week at Camp, this nightly routine is sweet comfort for any tinge of homesickness. Now familiar with the daily rhythm, the day ahead is an exciting prospect, whether collecting fresh eggs on the farm, learning how to throw a pot for the first time, or simply running barefoot with a friend through the cool grass. A Treetops summer gives children time to explore it all.  

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