Campers arrived to clear blue skies and bright sunshine, a wonderful welcome for the opening of camp. These first few days are an important time for campers to form new relationships with campers and counselors and to rekindle old friendships. It’s also a time to settle into the rhythm of life at Treetops. Campers are becoming familiar with waking up to the sound of birds, holding hands before meals, walking barefoot through wet grass and learning to live together as a tent group.Within the first days of camp, children toured each of the areas of our camp program. They rode a horse and swam in the lake, visited the garden where they all sampled a garlic scape and other tasty treats. Campers had the opportunity to begin exciting and creative projects in the shops. Silk paintings, wooden canoe paddles, colorful weavings, and coil pots were just some of the projects started this week. As always, catching frogs was a favorite during the orientation to the nature program.

On Tuesday evening, tent groups learned to build campfires and roasted hot dogs together before heading to the lake hill for the 4th (or in our case 1st) of July bonfire. Junior campers paraded towards the fire, adorned in hats of all colors and sizes, each handmade in the craft shop over the first couple days of camp. As the parade circled around the bonfire, campers tossed their hats ceremoniously on the bonfire and took a seat on the hill to sing camp songs accompanied by guitars, a fiddle and drums. Supers (our oldest campers) performed a skit, the creation of which is the first of many opportunities for this group to bond together as emerging leaders in our community. The hilarious, instructional and uniquely Treetops performance was a lesson for all on proper etiquette for “pooping in the woods.”

With just a couple of days of orientation, it’s not long before campers are involved in a creative variety of activities: some familiar favorites and others new to all. Campers are making lanyards, a necessary project before going through knife safety and earning a camp knife. A rocking chair for the community is beginning to take shape in the woodshop, campers are weaving, knitting, and painting in our craft shops and pinc pots and thrown bowls are forming as we speak in the pot shop. From the farm, campers harvested rosemary to make crackers, lavenders for scones and kale, basil, and farm fresh eggs for a breakfast frittata baked in our wood-fired oven.

Adventures off-property have begun, as well. There have been hikes up Cascade and Hurricane Mountains, several trips to the Lake Placid Horse Show, a morning of strawberry picking at a nearby farm, a scavenger hunt by canoe and a community service trip to work in the gardens of two local schools.

I enjoy these first days of connection. From walking to the barn together, sharing a meal they’ve cooked from scratch, or reading a book as a tent group before bed, every day our campers learn more about each other. Many come from diverse backgrounds, and have arrived from countries around the world including England, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Thailand, Colombia, Italy, Taiwan, Hungary, Mexico, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Bermuda. Some campers are beginning their sixth and final summer, while others are just beginning their first. As this diverse group of campers and counselors connect to both each other and to this place, our community begins to find cohesion and take shape.

Don’t miss the Week One Slide Show, below. Allow it to advance automatically, or drag slide bar to advance rapidly.