In our second week of Camp, adults and children alike are settling into the routines of Treetops. As they get more comfortable with each other, with this landscape, and with our daily rhythms, they are developing connections with everything around them. With the inevitable initial pangs of homesickness mostly behind us, campers are digging into all Camp has to offer.
At the end of Week One, all unvaccinated community members were tested and we are thrilled to report that all results came back negative. This allowed us to loosen some of our Covid restrictions. Rather than participating in activities within age groups, like during the first week, campers can now choose activities freely, as long as they are outdoors. For indoor activities, and while eating, campers return to their age group cohorts.
This week, both Junior and Senior Camp had their first Community Mornings. This weekly event is a time to come together to participate in a meaningful work project. “Many hands make light work” can often be heard during these mornings, reminding us all of the power of collective effort. Junior campers worked hard in the Potato Field, searching for the dreaded potato beetles and carefully picking them from plants to ensure a bountiful harvest come fall. Senior campers headed to the barn to clear rocks and brush from the pasture, making a safer grazing space for our horses and sheep.
As campers become more comfortable in their tent groups, up at the barn, and in swim class, we begin trips that push them to the outer reaches of our property and beyond. Campers who have shown an interest and some proficiency on the climbing wall and chimney, are venturing out to the Crag for more challenging climbs. Hiking trips up Big Slide Mountain, Balanced Rocks, and Cascade Mountain, and paddling on the Raquette River, and through Hoel, Turtle and Slang ponds, give campers a chance to learn new skills, explore the Adirondack wilderness, and make friends through these shared, and sometimes challenging, experiences.
Overnight trips give campers the time and space to get comfortable in the woods, learn to build a fire, and to cook dinner together. These first overnights are within tent groups, giving more time to develop relationships in small groups. For our oldest campers, this first overnight of the summer comes with the special tradition of reading letters written by past supers. These letters, which these campers will in turn write on the last night of Camp, are always deeply heartfelt and sentimental, offering advice for how to be good mentors to younger campers, to hold tight to friendships (even after Camp has ended), and to make the most of this last Treetops summer by trying new things and being fully present. This is a bonding time for our oldest campers that sets a nice tone for their role as leaders in the community this summer.
As campers create connections with their peers, their counselors, and even favorite animals at the barn, they are solidifying their footing here on our campus. This foundation gives them the confidence to venture beyond their comfort zones, to throw a pot on the wheel for the first time, explore the mountains and rivers that surround us, or try a new vegetable from the garden. Throughout the summer, campers will strengthen these bonds with the natural world, with each other, and with themselves, through challenge, whimsy, and everything in between.