Dear Treetops Families,

As we move through our second week of Camp, routines are becoming familiar and campers are finding their footing within the rhythm of our days. Shyness has given way to boisterous energy, and homesickness is nearly behind us. With each meal, work job, swim class, and bedtime, children are learning what it means to live, explore, and be themselves in this community.

This week, both junior and senior campers had their first Community Morning. As they weeded, applied compost, and mulched our rhubarb patch and annual flower bed, campers saw the power of collective and meaningful work. Throughout the summer, campers might spend this weekly work time stacking firewood for maple sugaring next spring, clearing trails for horseback riding, or eradicating an invasive species in our pastures. These mornings are not filled with simple activities to keep small hands busy, but instead with important, often challenging work that illustrates the tremendous ability of a group coming together. This week, campers made connections to their food system and environment, as they worked in the garden, to each other as they helped one another carry buckets of mulch and compost, and to their own abilities as they engaged in physical work outdoors.

Also beginning this week was Fund Lunch – one lunch a week that is a little lighter than usual. Having a simple meal, a hearty soup and homemade bread, without the usual salads, sides, and dessert, saves a small amount of money each week that is collected into a fund. Campers who are interested in being part of the Fund Committee research and present on different organizations throughout the summer before a community-wide vote determines where to donate the funds. We are intentional each summer in building relationships within the Camp community, while Fund Lunch presents profound opportunities to think beyond our property and to recognize our ability to contribute to others in need. Campers demonstrated tremendous empathy and thoughtfulness this week as we discussed at our tables the purpose of Fund Lunch – giving up just a little so that others can have more.

Some junior campers ventured into the woods for their tent overnights this week. A first time for many, groups cooked over a campfire, shared stories as they snuggled in sleeping bags, and fell asleep to the sounds of the forest. Though all tent overnights are on our property, children came back from these trips with an enormous sense of accomplishment, a palpable camaraderie with their tentmates, and a newfound familiarity with the wilderness.

The Supers, our oldest campers, had their first overnight, as well. On this trip, campers read through letters written by former campers on their last night of camp – timeless advice for a final summer at Treetops. These notes, sincere and sentimental, reflect the deep connections our campers make during their time here. Echoing page after page are thoughtful notes about the value of friendship, embracing authentic selves, moving beyond comfort zones, and being fully present. Many letters include future plans to come back to work at Treetops someday, and campers read these words, while many of the writers are among them, now as counselors.

Junior Campers gathered after dinner one evening this week, all in pajamas and many holding a stuffed animal from home, to sing and eat ice cream. Campers swayed to the guitar music, arm in arm, many strangers just days before. In this day in age it’s remarkable to see that many people, together, without a phone, or some other device in hand. Throughout our days at Treetops, as campers climb trees, throw a pot on the wheel, summit their first mountain, or collect eggs from our chickens, they are fully engaged – unplugged from the ubiquitous screens that normally occupy so much of our attention. Without those to distract us, we are connecting, joyfully and wholeheartedly, to one another, to the natural world, and to the community we are building here in the mountains.