Camp Journal: Week Seven

 

For nearly a century, Camp Treetops has given children time. Time to consider and reflect; time to fall in love with the earth and understand their responsibility to it; time to make friends for a lifetime; time to experience genuine accomplishment and the rush of unbounded joy.

Helen Haskell, legendary Camp director from 1929-1969, once wrote: “Treetops gives back what city and suburb have taken awayfarm animals to care for, sand and earth to dig in, trees to climb, grass to roll in, woods and fields to explore, flowers to pick or a garden to tend, wide stretches in which to play safely, a place to swim in the sun, to sleep out under stars.” In today’s wired world, children need this time “unplugged” more than ever before.

The rustic simplicity and unhurried pace of life at Treetops gives children the chance to discover their true selves. Being present in the moment, day by day, bit by bit, campers have developed a sense of connectedness to the natural world and to one another. They’ve also gained tremendous confidence in their own resilience and creativity. After much hard work, challenges that seemed beyond the bounds of possibility at the start of summer are now achievablepicking a horse’s hoof, summiting all five peaks of the Dix Range on an “Idiot Hike,” working diligently to complete a chessboard in the woodshop, or weaving a colorful, intricate tapestry on a floor loom. With every rising and setting of the sun, campers have grown in so many ways, both large and small.

To celebrate the culmination of seven weeks together, junior and senior camps delighted in Treetops annual Harvest Banquets. For the evening feasts, children harvested fresh greens, herbs, tomatoes, and beets, setting the tables with crisp white tablecloths, candles, and bright bouquets from our garden. Everyone dressed in their finest, dining on a homegrown meal of our own roasted pork and fresh garden vegetables.

This spirit of celebration continued on Thursday with campers and counselors gathering in the gardens for Farm Fest, our culminating all-camp event of the summer. The festivities were kicked off with campers leading a parade of horses, each finely groomed with flowers braided into their manes and tails. Farm-inspired activities were scattered along the road from the Main House to the Children’s Garden—flower crown and bouquet-making, pickle tasting, salsa making, sun tea/water infusions, woodfired pizza with garden veggies, stick biscuits, face painting, and more.

The gift of a Treetops summer is perhaps felt most deeply in these final, bittersweet days of Camp. As we bid each other farewell, children are comforted by the enduring friendships they have made, by all they’ve achieved, and the comfort in knowing that, no matter how far we travel, Camp Treetops will forever remain in our hearts.

 

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