As Helen Haskell, former Camp Director, wrote many decades ago, “ We all want the good life for our children. We wish youngsters to progress steadily towards independence, maturity, and confident responsibility with a chance for unhurried individual growth, good health, and happiness along the way.” Amongst the unrest, uncertainty, and instability of the last year, the pursuit of the good life, especially for our children, may have seemed challenging, if not downright impossible. After seven weeks of living, hiking, farming, and playing within this community, I can assure you, the good life is within reach. The last week at Treetops is always filled with culminating events to celebrate the community we have created with great intention over the last several months. This summer especially—our 100th!—feels particularly worthy of joyful celebration.
At our Harvest Banquets, tables were filled with a bounty of food and vibrant bouquets of flowers. These dinners celebrate the land that sustains us and the hard work that goes into providing food for a community. Pork chops, roasted potatoes, and salad were a delicious reflection of the many hands that weed, harvest, haul water, carry slop buckets, and cook so we can share a meal together. After the Harvest Banquet, we made our way to the beach for our final square dance. As campers stomp, skip, and twirl to the music, it’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time, let alone just several weeks ago, when some campers observed the first square dance with shyness and skepticism.
The Idiot Trips, a challenge to our most dedicated hikers and paddlers, are a culmination of a tremendous commitment to the outdoors. The campers chosen for these trips have shown strength through tough wilderness conditions, have encouraged their peers through bushwacks and stormy weather, and have demonstrated both grit and skill. This final summer trip is planned carefully to push campers beyond what they knew they were capable of. Hikers and paddlers returned from these trips late in the evening, sore and sweaty, and brimming with pride.
On Thursday, we celebrated our farm and the hard work that our whole community put into tending our gardens and caring for our animals. The afternoon kicked off with a parade of horses adorned with colorful flower crowns and carefully braided manes and tails. From there, campers were free to roam the gardens, making lip balm or vegetable print stationery; participating in farm Olympics, where they put their hay bale throwing skills to the test; tasting pickles and chopping vegetables for salsa; and enjoying the sounds of guitars as they had their faces painted. The mood at Farm Fest was light and festive, as campers soaked up the opportunity to walk barefoot through the garden, to eat delicious food they helped create, and to just be a kid, laughing and exploring the activities with friends.
The Supers, our oldest campers, followed in the tradition of those who came before them and wrote letters to future Supers. This was a time for reflecting on the time spent at Treetops, and campers spent the evening reminiscing, speaking earnestly, and writing carefully about their experiences. Through laughter and tears, campers expressed deep appreciation for friendship and for discovering new interests and skills, for learning that they could live (and even thrive) without their phones, and for developing confidence in their own individuality. The sentiments shared by campers during this final culmination were a true reflection of youngsters living the good life.
As the summer draws to an end, it is with tremendous gratitude that we say goodbye to our campers, each of whom was part of creating a unique, creative, and supportive Treetops community and will forever be a part of the fabric of this place. Thank you for sharing your children with us this summer.