canoe and loon

Dear Treetops Families,

For many of us the beginning of a new year is an opportunity to start fresh. While I like the idea of the chance to turn over a new leaf, I have never been one to make resolutions. My hesitation likely comes from the tradition of making them just once a year, in the glow of promise that the coming year seems to hold. Goals are often discarded early on, and therefore the word resolution loses some of its potency. But, stripped of its New Year’s connotation, the word resolution holds so much power. To have resolve is to have intention and the strength to move forward with that intent. It is the reminder that we have the ability to choose to embrace the things that bring us joy and to discard those that do not serve us productively. So, though I normally shy away from setting resolutions, after a year like 2020, it seemed a perfect opportunity to step into the new year with some strength and intention.

My resolution this year is modest. It is to take time to notice things that bring joy. It is slowing down and pausing to be present in small moments. Through my nature journal work over the years, I have followed the artist and educator Clare Walker Leslie. Like at Treetops, where we try to nurture the sense of wonder of the natural world, Clare Walker Leslie’s work encourages deep connection to nature through observation, journaling, and drawing. One of her exercises is taking time and engaging the senses daily to identify exceptional images in the natural world. As the world buzzes around and the news never stops, it has brought me joy and comfort to practice this exercise during my walk down to the camp office or on an early morning cross-country ski.

As I navigate the start of this new year, with continued uncertainty about the future, my resolution has been a grounding practice. When I notice the red-eyed vireo nest in the woods or look out across the pasture to take in the vibrancy of the blue sky in contrast with snow-covered Balanced Rocks, I think of campers at Treetops. For many of them, at their age, they don’t need encouragement to notice exceptional images around them. Every summer at Treetops, as campers observe frogs in the pond or stop to marvel at a loon on the lake, it is clear that a sense of wonder is intact. After a year that has been so largely focused around screens—virtual classrooms and Zoom birthday parties—I am so delighted to think about campers arriving back at Treetops, running barefoot and being fully present in the garden, at the waterfront, and everywhere in between.

COVID Update

As we plan for our 2021 season, the health and safety of our campers and staff continues to be our highest priority. Although New York State has not yet made a decision, I am optimistic that overnight camps will be able to reopen this summer. For the past several months, I have attended many ACA (American Camp Association) webinars regarding Covid and the safe opening of camps. We are developing likely protocols, which will be adjusted as we receive new information and guidance from the New York State Health Department.

Below are some of the protocols that will likely be in place for the 2021 season:

  • Pre-Camp testing and quarantining;
  • Masking, social distancing, and being outdoors as much as possible;
  • Campers in pods for at least the first week of Camp;
  • Daily screening and quarantining as necessary at Camp;
  • Testing of the community the first week of Camp;
  • Outdoor dining tents to help with social distancing

We have also made the decision to cancel Visitors’ Weekend. We know how special that weekend is to so many campers and families, but it is important that we minimize risk for the health and safety of our community. We will offer you a Zoom call with your camper during that weekend. We will send more information about this in a parent mailing early in the summer.

Enrollment Update

Thank you to all of you who have enrolled your child for this summer. Camp is almost full. In fact, we have waiting lists in several age groups. If you are thinking about enrolling your child, please complete the Camp Treetops Camper Application as soon as possible, to ensure a spot for the 2021 season.

I will continue to send you updates as I receive more information. In the meantime, I hope you and your family find time to notice the things that bring you joy.


Karen Culpepper
Camp Director