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!
Cabin News Highlights
Wondering what’s happening in the different groups around GAC this session? Here are some highlights from each of our cabin groups:
Cabin 0 is an inclusive and energetic group of girls—they’ve loved earning the “Clean Cabin” award and climbing natural rocks! Cabin 1 has especially enjoyed sailing, horseback riding, and campfires. Cabin 2 has a strong bond with one another and loved their amazing backpacking trip to Twin Lakes. Cabin 3 loves trying new things, facing fears, making friendship bracelets for each other, and singing “Fight Song.” Cabin 4 is an ambitious and sweet group of young ladies who loved doing watersports at Shaver and creating a new lions girls cheer. Cabin 5 had a blast winning a rap battle at Shaver! Cabin 6 enjoyed preparing and performing their big campfire skit. Cabin 7 is an upbeat and fun group of girls who enjoyed pontoon dance parties at Shaver. Cabin 8 has been focusing on creating lasting friendships—their theme of the session is “To eight-finity and beyond!” Cabin 9 is a giggly group of girls who like jokes and loved their horseback trail ride. Cabin 10 loves writing WOWs to each other, playing “Black Magic,” and sailing. Cabin 11 loves singing the Banana Song and their favorite activity this week was zipline! Cabin 12 enjoyed painting, horseback riding, and dancing at Bears Social! Cabin 13 is constantly laughing and they loved doing water sports in refreshing Huntington Lake! Cabin 14 absolutely loved their boat ride to fishing, GACting (drama), and trying new things together.
Cabin 15 is a social and enthusiastic group of boys who loved driving the mini-motorboats and are excited for Bears’ Adventure! Cabin 16 had an absolute blast at canoeoing, and love singing “Hey, Hey Bo Diddly Bop” around camp. Cabin 17 enjoyed GACting and water sports. Cabin 18 is a responsible group of guys who loved backpacking to Indian Falls, the “Adventure Game,” and funny mad-lib sessions! Cabin 20 is ambitious and determined to complete their camp goals; they loved paddle boarding this week! Cabin 21 enjoyed climbing natural rocks, sailing, and playing “Ninja.” Cabin 22 is a super inclusive group who loved team building and are always willing to help out. Cabin 23 is polite, helpful, and caring, and their favorite activities in the first week were kayaking, paddle boarding, and horseback riding. Cabin 24 had an instant group bond and their highlights of the first week were high ropes, canoeing, and campfires. Cabin 25 is happy, humorous, and kind and they loved playing epic games of “Camouflage” and their swim during their backpacking trip. Cabin 26 is positive, supportive, and fun-loving; they loved mountain biking and playing “Mafia.” Cabin 27 is a diverse and funny group of young men who loved Shaver and high ropes. Cabin 28 is an intelligent bunch who loved kayaking and log rolling. Cabin 29 are focusing on being good role models by Giving-A-Hand and having tons of fun—one of their favorite activities this week was the vertical playpen!
Our Junior Counselors are doing a fantastic job helping out in their cabins and with events, including MCing Big Campfire on Saturday. Our OLC team is currently out on their epic backpacking trip and are due back on Wednesday!
Session 1 Cabin News Highlights
Here are some highlights from each of our Session 1 cabins from the first week of Session 1!
Cabin 0 is a super inclusive group of girls who enjoy smashing their water sports goals and having kindness buddies within their cabin. Cabin 1 has especially enjoyed backpacking, sailing, and eating marshmallows while getting to know each other during campfires. Cabin 2 is a group of very helpful and silly girls who love reading spirit notes to each other and trying new things. Cabin 3 loved Tigers’ Bingo and are constantly thinking of ways to give to other cabins. Cabin 4 is spirited and energetic—they love singing Taylor Swift and reading to their buddy cabin. Cabin 5 is a group of mature, kind, and wonderful campers who love sleeping under the stars and putting notes in their cabin’s kindness box. Cabin 6 is fun, energetic, observant, and encouraging and they loved singing songs on the boats at Shaver this week! Cabin 7 is a group of chatty, confident, and fearless young ladies who encourage each other and work really well as a team. Cabin 8 is taking full advantage of their last year of camp—they are inclusive role models for the other campers and they are having an absolute ball together! Cabin 9 loved their mud spa that they got to partake in after they went kayaking this week. Cabin 10 is a spunky group of girls who really enjoyed their backpacking trip. Cabin 11 loves singing the Gold Arrow Camp song wherever they go, and their highlight of the week was their swim party at Shaver. Cabin 12 is a very enthusiastic group of girls who love horses, the Bazooka Bubble Gum song, and being tie-dye unicorns for Cabin Theme Day! Cabin 13 is a creative, positive, cohesive group of girls who love encouraging each other, helping their buddy cabin, and giggling. Cabin 14 loves “highs and lows” at campfires, giving a hand, and being silly!
Cabin 15 is a creative and imaginative group of boys who love kneeboarding and helping each other whenever possible. Cabin 16 really enjoyed their trip to Shaver where the swam, jumped off the pontoon boat, and did water sports! Cabin 17 loved their campfire with TQOE and singing the Llama Song. Cabin 18 had a great bonding experience when they went on their backpacking trip—they work very well as a team. Cabin 20 became friends quickly and loved paddle boarding, practicing and performing their skit, and their first campfire. Cabin 21 is a group of intellectual, thoughtful, and intelligent campers who commit to giving 100 “Put-Ups” a day and love kayaking and high ropes. Cabin 22 is friendly and they love to play cards, paddle board, and mountain bike! Cabin 23 had a fun and exciting backpacking trip where they helped each other out a lot! Cabin 24 is a cheerful group of campers who abide by their “Bro Code” which states that, “When somebody wins, everybody wins.” Cabin 25 is a tenacious group of guys who love playing “Mr. President” around camp as well as climbing natural rocks and playing cards in down time. Cabin 26 loved sailing, mountain biking, and conquering fears at their rocks and ropes activities. Cabin 27 is constantly laughing—they also display good team work and especially loved mountain biking this week. Cabin 28 is caring, compassionate, and has a great sense of humor—their highlight was also mountain biking! Cabin 29 had a thrilling time conquering goals at Shaver, team building, log rolling, and doing water sports. The Junior Counselors had a great bonding experience during their backpacking trip which was also a proud accomplishment for each of them!
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