Karen’s Camp Journal Week 7: Connectedness

Last Sunday, the junior campers’ theatrical efforts came to fruition. From writing to rehearsals, the Junior Camp play unfolded behind-the-scenes in a flurry of exciting ideas and old-fashioned hard work. The result was a rousing Sunday evening performance of “The Day the Campers’ Wish Came True.” Campers sang original songs with gusto, engaging the audience with a story that began as a question: If all the counselors mysteriously disappeared, what would Camp be like? The answer: Treetops just wouldn’t be the same. Each counselor infuses our community with humor, knowledge, guidance, and compassion—our lasting impact on our campers is a testament to this fact. “The Day the Campers’ Wish Came True” was a touching display of campers’ gratitude and love for their counselors, reminding me of the incredible strides we have made over the past seven weeks. It takes time to develop these connections, to learn, create, play, and grow.

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On Tuesday the hiking and canoeing Idiot trips went out, leaving camp at 4:30 am for various trailheads and put-ins. It was a remarkably windy day and gusts up to 33 miles per hour challenged the Junior Raquette River paddlers to flex their muscles and forced the Senior Canoe idiot to paddle through very rough water and eventually alter its route. All in all it was a successful day, with the canoe trips paddling close to 30 miles and the hiking trips walking 22 and 24 miles and gaining 6,000 and 8,000 feet of elevation respectively.

Every Monday the kitchens prepare a lunch of soup made from leftovers and garden veggies. The money we save from these simple meals goes into the Treetops Fund to be donated to a few non-profit organizations. After much research and discussion, campers presented the final contenders, and votes were taken and tallied this week. Both camps chose to give half of their funds to the Treetops Scholarship Fund. In Junior Camp the other half will go to Essex Farm, a local organic farm and food co-op; Senior Camp voted to donate the other half of their funds to Heifer International, an organization that works with communities to end world hunger and poverty.

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At summer’s end, we celebrate Treetops in many unique ways. At the Junior and Senior Camp harvest banquets, tables were beautifully set with white linens and perennial garden flowers. The banquet feasts included our own homegrown herbs, veggies, meat, and potatoes, all harvested by campers, counselors, and farm staff. On Thursday, everyone gathered for FarmFest. A Treetops tradition, this colorful all-camp event celebrates the animals and bounty of our farm and garden. Edibles included wood fired flatbread topped with garden veggies, samplings of herbal teas, an array of pickled veggies, homemade herb dips, salsa, and more. Campers joined in an array of activities, from lassoing to potato sack races to seed planting to flower wreaths, all beginning with a parade of horses, their manes and tails adorned with garden flowers for everyone to admire.

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Week seven is a culmination of a summer spent together, of waking, eating, playing, creating, working, hiking, paddling, swimming, sailing, and sharing in the countless joys of our vibrant community. The final week of Camp offers everyone a chance to complete that last creative project, work job, song, or adventure. Our Supers recently finished their “time capsule” letters with heartfelt advice for a new generation of Supers to be read in five years time. As for myself, this morning I joined the heartiest swimmers for our final polar bear swim in the chilly waters of the Cascade Lakes. It’s amazing that another Treetops summer has come and gone. Although it’s hard to say goodbye, I am so grateful for the time that we have shared and equally impressed with how much we have evolved together as a community.

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