At Treetops, a sense of community is woven through all we do. Rising early for barn chores or garden harvest, choosing activities at council, passing rafters and clothesliners at the waterfront, savoring juice and crackers at the Lake Hill, and sharing bedtime stories on the tent line are all part and parcel of the Treetops rhythm. Through these daily activities, we make meaningful connections to each other. By week six, our community has blossomed and is flourishing.
Daily chores and work jobs continue to encourage children to cultivate relationships as they perform meaningful tasks that help to keep Camp running smoothly. At barn chores, campers feed and care for the barn animals — chickens, horses, pigs, sheep, and more. Fresh eggs collected from the chicken coop are carried to the Camp kitchens. In the gardens, children harvest greens, herbs, and veggies for the day’s meals. Later in the afternoon, everyone participates in community chores—gathering wood for the evening campfire, tidying shared spaces, and picking fresh flowers for the dining room tables.
Of course, children also make unique contributions to the community above and beyond daily chores and work jobs. Usually these projects are for the benefit of future campers in summers to come. For example, in response to the waste that plastic bags create and the threat they pose to animals and their natural habitats, campers worked together to sew reusable waterproof bags out of nylon material, which will be utilized on Treetops trips.
As far as more permanent community projects, Supers have relocated the out-house from the yurt down to the Super Cove for the benefit of future campers, who currently must trek up the hill to the washhouses. This summer Supers have also been diligently working on rebuilding the bench outside the Senior Camp Main House. This bench holds a special place in our hearts. Several years ago, it was built by campers and beloved counselor Tom Clark, who passed away unexpectedly only a few weeks before Camp. Tom began working at Treetops in the 1960s and at North Country School in the 1970s. His decades of caring mentorship and the positive influence he exerted on so many campers, students, and staff here is a legacy to be both celebrated and cherished. In his honor, the Supers’ refurbished bench will be formally named the Tom Clark Memorial Bench.
Giving back to each other and recognizing the ways in which we can contribute to the larger Camp community, as well as the broader world, is vitally important to our time-honored ethos at Treetops. Once a week, everyone eats a simple lunch of fresh-baked bread and soup made of leftovers from the kitchen and fresh garden vegetables. The weekly savings will be donated to the Treetops Scholarship Fund or to a non-profit organization at the end of the summer. A fund committee made up of camper volunteers researches and presents to the rest of camp a number of environmental or humanitarian groups. Next week, all campers vote to decide which organizations the Fund Lunch money will benefit.
At Senior Camp’s Oxfam Hunger Banquet this week, campers drew tickets at random, assigning them to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier—based on the latest statistic about the number of people living in poverty. Each level received a corresponding meal, from an elaborate feast prepared for the lucky few to small portions of rice and water for the lowest-income participants. This disparity between meals helped children grasp the impact poverty has on an individual and family level. It opened campers’ minds to the tremendous resilience required of people across the world who are struggling for fair access to food and other resources. Annual Treetops traditions like community mornings, Fund Lunch, and the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, celebrate the meaning of putting others first and working together for the greater good.
Celebrating our Treetops community is at the heart of all we do. Our days together may be winding down, but we continue to grow, create, and share, cherishing our last weeks together.