“This week has gone by so fast!” is what I’ve heard several times over the past few days. Whether it’s because the end of summer and the start of school are looming or because we’re well entrenched in our camp routines, the first week of Session 4 seemed to fly by in a blink for most of us. Returning and new campers alike have been energetic and engaged, whether chanting spirit chants for their age groups, singing along to “Fight Song” on the dining porch, dancing to Foot Loose, or encouraging their friends on the ropes course and out on the lake.
Fun special events this week included Pajama Breakfast, Cabin Theme Day, Tigers’ Bingo, GAC Spirit Day, Bears’ Ice Cream Social, Big Campfire (our all-camp skit night), and many cabins’ trips to Shaver Island, Backpacking, and Canyoneering. With a busy week ahead full of more special events, fun trips to Shaver and Backpacking, the Cartoon Dance, and Appreciation Campfire, it looks like the second week of Session 4 will be equally warp-speed for all of us at GAC!
On Monday and Wednesday evenings, I had the pleasure of teaching some first-timers how to operate a sewing machine as they sewed pillow cases for conkerrcancer.org. Tqoe also reports that campers have made over 100 dog chew toys for the Animal Crackers shelter! So, our Give a Hand projects are in full swing and campers are diving in!
Many campers have conquered their fears and challenged themselves to try new activities this week. Campers have climbed to new heights, sailed on boats for the first time, and gotten up on kneeboards, wakeboards, and water skiis. I even witnessed several kids trying trout for the first time when their cabin mates caught and cooked the fish over their campfire!
As our awesome 2015 counseling staff reflect on their final two-week session this summer and fourteen “graduating” campers get ready to say goodbye to their childhood camp years, this week promises to be one full of lots of fun as well as strong emotions. We’re looking forward to a fantastic week here at GAC!
Cabin News Highlights
Cabin 0 is a positive group of girls who have loved sailing, arts and crafts, and backpacking with Moxie! Cabin 1 enjoyed backpacking and preparing for their big campfire skit. Cabin 2 is a group of high-spirited girls who enjoyed practicing and performing their original and hilarious skit titled, “Elle Woods Takes the Woods!” Cabin 3 is proud of their accomplishments on Shaver and had fun learning the new lions girls cheers. Cabin 4 had a blast making lots of fun songs on Shaver to encourage one another! Cabin 5 is a confident group of young ladies who are always laughing and they caught three fish in one free time! Cabin 6 is fun, hilarious, and energetic and they had a super fun time singing at teambuilding. Cabin 7 is a determined and goofy group of girls who had a thrilling time tearing up the water at Shaver Island. Cabin 8 especially loved canyoneering and jumping on the “whoosh” at Shaver. Cabin 9 clicked instantly and their favorite activities so far have been doing the top and bottom level of high ropes and building a fort near their cabin! Cabin 10 is a respectful, inclusive, sweet group of girls who love singing “Hey Hey Bo Diddly Bop” and having cabin campfires. Cabin 11 is super helpful, enthusiastic, and cheerful and they absolutely loved painting mugs at arts and crafts as well as canoeing and sailing. Cabin 12 is fearless, giggly, and persistent and they loved climbing natural rocks and singing Taylor Swift songs! Cabin 13 had a fantastic time on their Backpacking trip to Indian Falls where they played “Mafia” and the “Song Game.” Cabin 14 especially enjoyed kneeboarding at Shaver, as well as horseback riding and driving the mini motorboats. Cabin 15 is an active group of boys and they loved archery and riflery this week. Cabin 16 enjoys playing “Odds” and “Mafia” whenever they have the chance! Cabin 17 gelled really quickly and the highlight of their week was when they found frogs during their “Oreo” (Outdoor Recreation and Educational Opportunity) hike. Cabin 18 is a cohesive and fun group who enjoyed taking sunset pictures at Indian Falls while backpacking as well as playing the “Bus Stop Game” at “GACting” (theater.) Cabin 20 is a supportive group of campers whose highlight was earning the Clean Cabin Banner and helping take care of the horses before breakfast. Cabin 21 had lots of fun adventures while backpacking and they love singing the Moose Song! Cabin 22 is an energetic and intelligent group of guys who work well as a team; their highlight of the first week was canoeing to Lakeshore in the Big Canoe! Cabin 23 enjoyed practicing their skit throughout the week for Big Campfire! Cabin 24 had a blast making a fort at Natural rocks! Cabin 25 enjoyed performing their stand-out skit at Big Campfire where they sang and danced to the High School Musical song, “Stick to the Status Quo.” Cabin 26 bonded as a group from Day 1 and they have especially enjoyed cabin campfires, canyoneering, and their “Ratslap” tournament. Cabin 27 is a group of guys with a great sense of humor—they love chatting about sports and had the best time on Shaver Island! Cabin 28 clicked quickly; they are considerate and supportive of one another and love playing the game “Camouflage.” Cabin 29 is a positive group of young men who loved log rolling, high ropes, and telling crazy stories around their nightly campfires. The Junior Counselors are a cohesive group who enjoyed their backpacking trip and going to Shaver Island with all of the bears cabins.
Session 3 Starts Strong
Big Spirit! That’s what comes to mind when I think of this first week of Session 3. From the very first dinner on Sunday night and throughout this week, there has been an energy of fun and excitement all over camp. Maybe it’s because our Session 3 campers are, for the most part, returning campers, or maybe it’s because our first-year campers (48 of them) are the type to just jump into stuff right away. Whatever the reason, the loud conversations, matching tie-dye shirts, singing, chanting, and dancing started on Sunday and hasn’t stopped since. These kids really know how to do camp right, and they are having BIG fun!
Campers have also jumped into our summer theme, Give a Hand. Within their cabin groups, campers are practicing their friendship skills by giving “put ups” (AKA compliments) and helping each other out. Buddy cabins have been helping KP (kitchen patrol – table set up) their friends’ tables for meals. Some campers have also signed up during free time for some of our voluntary Give a Hand projects. This week, some campers volunteered to clean trails, make dog chew toys for an animal shelter, create banners for the Ronald McDonald House charities, and sew pillow cases for conkerrcancer.org.
Special events this week included Pajama Breakfast, Cabin Theme Day, Tigers’ Bingo, GAC Spirit Day, Bears’ Ice Cream Social, Big Campfire (our all-camp skit night), and many cabins’ trips to Shaver Island, Backpacking, and Canyoneering.
After getting some extra sleep on Sunday morning and enjoying delicious Monkey Bread for late breakfast, campers enjoyed various activities before having a delicious burger lunch. Then, everyone headed out to the Carnival, which featured lots of social time, games, and junk food.
We are enjoying a great session of rekindling old and forming new friendships, and we’ve asked campers to continue to challenge themselves to try new things. Many have conquered fears and sailed on sailboats for the first time, gotten up on water skis, and climbed to high heights on the ropes course, natural rocks and our newest climbing element, the Vertical Playpen.
With a busy week of Shaver trips, backpacking, our Winter Wonderland Dance, and our Appreciation Campfire coming up, we know this second week of the session is going to fly by!
Priority Enrollment Begins August 1
Sunshine’s Session 2 Meanderings
I’ve really enjoyed the first week of Session 2, which has been full of fun activities, trips to Shaver, backpacking adventures, theme days, and lots of great food, friendship, and fun. The sun shone without a break all week, and the first clouds we’ve seen were today (Sunday). While we may get some much-needed rain over the next few days, I know it won’t dampen the spirits of this enthusiastic group of kids!
Campers have been diving into our Give a Hand theme. Today, our oldest campers wrote thank you letters to our support staff, so our kitchen staff, nurses and doctor, and maintenance staff are all hearing loud and clear how much they are appreciated. Campers also signed up for free time “Give a Hand” projects this week and made banners for Ronald McDonald House, fleece dog chew toys for an animal shelter, and crocheted beanies for the Knots of Love organization. Campers also signed up for trail clean up projects and a special “treasure hunt” under our dining porch for lost silverware. Many campers who have participated in different service opportunities during their time at camp will be earning their foam hands at our final morning assembly of the week (Friday). Coming up this week, I’ll be working with kids to sew pillow cases that will cheer up kids who are hospitalized due to cancer. The pillow cases will be delivered via ConKerr Cancer to Children’s Hospital, Central California.
For me, this has been a week of contrasts. During the first few days of the session, there were some extremely homesick campers whom I had the privilege of counseling through their adjustment to camp. One told me that “she couldn’t make it” and that she really needed to call her parents and go home right away. Another was having trouble sleeping and generally just having trouble adjusting to camp. By the end of the week, the strong feelings and emotions about missing home had dissipated and were replaced by smiles and a feeling of being comfortable at camp and having fun. What a privilege it is to watch the transformation from “I can’t do this,” to “I’m doing this!” When parents are supportive of allowing their child to go through the discomfort of adjusting to camp, the results are amazing. And I appreciate the trust parents have placed in us to care for children and use our judgment about whether or not the child is, in fact, ready for their camp experience. I love watching the transformation once the camper learns that their parents know they are having trouble adjusting but also have confidence in them that they will adjust to camp and enjoy themselves. Once the homesick camper gets the message that they aren’t going to be rescued from this particular pain, they dive into camp headfirst and start allowing themselves to have fun. They no longer feel the need to convince their parents, via letters and pleas to camp staff, that they need to be picked up immediately. I loved today’s message to her parents from a previously-homesick camper, “The super homesick letters are from the past!”
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the five-year campers who came to Sunspot (my home at camp) for our 5 Year Camper Party, which always precedes Big Campfire. They came for dessert and soda and to browse old camp yearbooks. They were also given the option to be interviewed by me about their experiences over their years at GAC. Listening to these long-time campers talk about camp is one of the most rewarding things I get to do. The kids are all different, but there were common themes they talked about as they reflected on five years of being campers. They talked about how they’ve grown from their time at camp, especially in their friendship and social skills. A few mentioned that camp “changed their personality” and made them more outgoing. Almost all of them mentioned the word “home,” as in, “It feels like home here.” Several mentioned how positive the environment is here and how much they enjoy all of the staff. I was able to get a bit of the footage to share here (more coming soon) so you can get a taste of how these five year campers feel about camp:
While I know that this is not our campers’ actual home, I’m so glad that they feel at home here and consider GAC their “summer home.” It really does feel like a big family up here. For that, and for these amazing kids who join us for a few weeks each summer to share a piece of their childhood, I am deeply grateful. Thank you for sharing your kids with us!
We’re looking forward to our final week of Session 2 and know that it’s going to fly by, because we have so many fun things coming up –Bears’ Adventure, Lions’ social, trips to Shaver Lake, final cabin campfires on Wednesday, the Prehistoric Dance, and our Appreciation Campfire on Friday evening.
We’re looking forward to a fantastic week here at GAC!
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