Dear Treetops Families:
As we enter our final days at Camp, the change of season is in the air: the raspberries have reached the end of their harvest, and a dappling of leaves on the sugar maples have turned hues of yellow, orange, and red, a harbinger of Autumn creeping in from just around the corner. At this time we find moments to reflect on our Treetops summer, and carve out time to celebrate the incredible community we’ve built in these past seven weeks: the bonds of friendship we’ve built; the skills we’ve developed and honed; the incredible feats we’ve accomplished traversing mountain, lake, and stream; and the daily work we’ve done together that sustains our community.
This week was kicked off with a treasured Camp Treetops tradition: The Bean Carnival! This whole-camp Sunday activity is a celebration of fun and whimsy with stations that include: children wrestling their friends (or siblings!) in a pit of mud with the goal of getting their opponent’s sock off their foot before their own sock is taken; the Tidal Wave dunking station in which the loser gets a bucket of ice-cold water dumped over their head by the winner, the Slip ‘n Slide, special fruit smoothies prepared by our Super campers, and more!
In the evening, our junior campers and senior campers gathered separately for their “Quiet Campfires”, at which campers are invited to share a song, a poem, or a reflection upon their Treetops summer. This peaceful and solemn time allows for campers to quietly reflect on their most cherished moments at Camp, and the memories they’ll take with them when they leave.
Midweek, our Idiot Trips, the most challenging and longest day trips were sent out; these trips are so difficult that participants must be “idiots” to even attempt them! Campers are honored to be chosen for these trips and selection is based not only on their exceptional wilderness skills and abilities, but also on their attitudes, their capacity to keep going when the going gets tough, and their willingness to assist and encourage their friends and counselors. Campers wake, eat breakfast and depart before sunrise to embark on an incredibly challenging route, and return to Camp after dark. These hikes and canoe trips instill in the participants the understanding that they are rugged and resilient and capable of doing incredibly hard things. Children return weary, worn, and brimming with pride at their magnificent accomplishments.
This week we also celebrated our farm and garden, the heart of our mountain campus, with the Farm Fest and Harvest Banquets. Over the course of the summer, every child has been an integral part of working our land and feeding our community. Farm Fest kicks off with a parade of our farm animals, groomed with care and adorned with flowers from the garden. From there, campers go to stations where they may taste-test various pickled veggies, from curried daikon radish to yellow beets or spicy dill pickles. Campers made wood-fired pizzas and bagels using rye flour that was grown, threshed, and milled in recent weeks. Campers made delicious and colorful garden sushi and blind taste-tested various garden herbs. The celebration was capped with singing songs and a presentation of special awards given to campers who have shown an exemplary work ethic in the barn and garden this summer.
Harvest Banquet is another celebration of all the work we do together to feed our community. For this special meal, children dress nicely, and tablecloths, fresh flower bouquets from the garden, and candles adorn the tables. The menu is chosen carefully and features items lovingly raised and grown on our land. We feasted on pork chops from pigs we raised, potatoes we planted and cared for, fresh garden salads, and carrots, freshly picked by campers that day. From this celebration, children excitedly ran down to the beach for our final square dance, children hopped and skipped, swung and twirled, as the sky beyond Round Lake turned gorgeous hues of golden pink and dusty blue by the setting sun.
As the sun sets on our summer, we reflect on our community and the feeling of belonging that this special place instills in all of us. Some may be ending their first Treetops summer and others their thirty first. Some will return next summer and for many more to come; still others may take a different path. In this final week we celebrate the incredible love and dedication Karen has for Camp Treetops and the myriad ways she has lovingly shaped our Camp community. It is with full hearts and immense gratitude that the Treetops community and I thank her and wish her the very best. Though she is moving on from her position as Camp Director, Karen will forever be a cherished part of Treetops and I feel so honored for the opportunity to take over the stewardship of this special place. For all of us who’ve had the privilege of a Treetops summer, this will forever be our mountain home, and within it, we will always belong.
Incoming Camp Director