After cool and rainy weather over the last several weeks, the sun has emerged! Our vegetable gardens are bursting with ripe tomatoes, bulging kohlrabi, and juicy cucumbers, and the pastures are a lush and vibrant green. Despite the drizzles, over the past month and a half our Treetops community has taken shape. Children from different backgrounds, arriving at Camp with various skills and diverse interests, have fallen into a comfortable rhythm. Whether collecting eggs at Barn Chores, gathering together at Juice and Crackers, or reading aloud at bedtime, campers are sharing experiences that connect them intimately to both this place and to those around them. As campers find comfortable footing and their unique place within the whole, they can express their authentic selves and recognize what it means to be an important part of a community.
Each week, Community Morning is a valuable lesson in the power of our community coming together, each of us individually working hard toward a common goal. With no other task is that power more profound than our annual Chicken Harvest, which our senior campers gathered for this week. The work is optional, a “challenge by choice,” and is always met with a mix of uncertainty, fear, and sadness. As farmers, counselors, and our oldest campers guide the community through the physical and emotional work, these emotions often give way to feelings of reverence for the chickens and a sense of deep pride that comes from completing the challenging work of providing food for our community.
Junior campers are also working together and building deep connections to their food and where it comes from by developing a garden-inspired Gratitude Cookbook. For each recipe for the cookbook, campers harvest, prepare, and of course, taste, with gratitude in mind. I am Blissful Lemon Balm and Mint Tea, I am Grounded Maple and Carrot Muffins, and I am Humble Rhubarb Crumble are each recipes tried out during the making of the cookbook. As part of the process, campers take time to write down and share what they are grateful for.
Even as our connections here strengthen, campers are also discovering the impact that this community can have on the broader world. Once a week all summer, campers eat a lunch of soup made from garden vegetables and homemade bread. The money saved by eating a smaller, simpler meal, is collected into a fund that is donated at the end of the summer. Campers research and present on organizations that interest them and the whole community votes on where to send the money as Camp draws to an end. In the past, money from this collective act of generosity has been donated to the Treetops Scholarship Fund, Doctors Without Borders, and to our local food pantry. “Fund Lunch” is a powerful reminder of the impact each of us can have, not just on our own communities, but beyond, as well.
As our remaining days at Camp wind down, we are so grateful for the community that has developed. In the final week of Camp, we will gather together often to celebrate each other, the land and animals, the kitchens and the gardens, and the whimsy and fun of Treetops.