Camp has begun! After last summer’s hiatus, it is with so much happiness and gratitude that we welcome families back to Treetops. Campers arrived to a little bit of rain, which then opened up to bright blue skies and sunny days. Our garden is brimming with vibrant lettuces and delicious herbs, and the pastures are in full bloom with daisies, buttercups, and black-eyed Susans. Campers and counselors alike are navigating the excitement and nerves of emerging into a brand new experience. This first week is all about slowing down and settling into the routines of Camp.
We recognize that this summer, even more than others, it is important to give time and space to ease into Camp. After over a year of limited interactions and mostly virtual friendships, Camp may feel intensely social and active. Because of Covid protocols, campers are starting the summer, eating meals and choosing activities within their age groups. Although this is a departure from the typical structure of a Treetops day, we are still fully embracing this time to ease into the rhythms of Camp. In smaller groups there are less names to learn right away and more familiar faces at activities, which allows for a transition into an environment that, even for returning campers, may feel somewhat foreign after such an atypical past year. In addition to smaller groups, there is more intentional time for self-care and reflection being offered throughout the day, especially in the evenings. Children who need the space can read a book, write a letter, or just take some quiet time before bed.
Of course, in contrast to this gentle care, in so many ways campers are hitting the ground running, and rest assured, we are encouraging them to fully embrace the Camp experience as well. All campers have completed Treetops orientation, so everyone had their first swim in the lake (luckily, it’s been hot!), saddled up on a horse, toured the wood, craft, and ceramics shops, and visited the barn and gardens. Campers are now choosing their own activities and taking the opportunity to explore areas of Camp that interest them. On any given day, we see campers rock climbing on one of our building’s chimneys, harvesting herbs in the Children’s Garden to make tea, catching newts in the Frog Pond, or taking knife safety so that they can receive their camp knife.
We’ll gather this weekend for our bonfire, the first all-Camp activity. There is always a little bit of magic in this event, to witness children and adults from all over the world, with all different backgrounds, coming together as a community for the first time. Junior campers will parade up the hill with their homemade hats, our oldest campers will huddle together as they prepare to perform their Super Skits, and our guitarists will unroll song sheets to kick off the evening with singing. This summer, after all the recent challenges and limitations, bringing the whole community together for this bonfire feels particularly profound.
After many, many months of uncertainty about whether Camp could open and what it would look like if it did, it’s refreshing and heartwarming to be fully present to watch this 100th Treetops summer unfold. We are grateful for the patience of families over the past year-and-a-half as we navigated how Treetops would adapt to the time of Covid. We appreciate the energy and commitment of our counselors and staff for showing up boldly, ready to take on whatever curveballs this summer threw. And beyond anything, we are thankful for the campers, both new and returning, who arrived and immediately infused this landscape with immense joy, and the kind of exuberance that comes only from children. These campers, who are just finding their footing, resiliently adapting to new surroundings and routines, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, comforting homesick tentmates, and trying new things with a deep courage they may have forgotten they even had.
As we settle in and our community begins to take shape, we thank you so much for sharing your children with us this summer.