We love Camp-Out! (Session 2, June 19)

By Sandy Schenck

Campers and staff came rolling back into camp at a leisurely pace this morning, having spent the morning at their respective sites enjoying the early morning mist, taking refreshing (and awakening) dips in the Green River, and cooking up oatmeal (with brown sugar and raisins) and grits for breakfast.  After unpacking their gear, everyone went straight to the showerhouses, and then we all met in the Lodge for a hamburger/veggie-burger cook-out, with all the fixings, and corn-on-the-cob, salad, potato chips, and watermelon.

Over the last couple of days, campers and staff had a blast exploring the Preserve.  The groups who spent nights at Hemlock Field enjoyed playing in the woods around the field and in the Green River, and they loved Hemlock Field at night, when the canopy of fireflies made it seem like the starry night was surrounding them.  Another group caught “one thousand!” salamanders at Trout Pond the first night; their counselor boasted that they “beasted” the hike from Trout Pond up to the Upper Bald yesterday.  They ate dinner on Long Rock, appreciating the view.  Larger than life seems to be the running theme for Camp-Out, since another group saw the biggest grub they had ever seen, and another group found a gigantic green caterpillar—it looks like a Roald Dahl creation.

Here are few of campers’ favorite things from Camp-Out:

“going to the river and looking for salamanders,” “everything,” “s’mores,” “the hike,” “swimming and wading in the lakes and rivers,” “spending more time together with my cabin-mates and  our brother cabin,”  “I really loved the feeling of taking my pack off after a really long hike,” “wading in the river at Hemlock Field,” “hanging out at Joe’s Pool,” “all the fun games we did with our cabin and sister cabin,” “sleeping outside,” “skipping stones at Trout Pond,” and “everything” (again—got that one several times!)!

After lunch and a very quiet rest hour, campers went to activities.  They were out fly-fishing around the Upper and Lower ponds today, and a couple of campers reeled in fish!  Campers taking archery shot at our standard targets, and they also took aim at our moving target.  It’s a life-size replica of a wild pig that is attached to a pulley system; when the staff member lets loose the string, campers try to hit it as it moves across the range.  We had three campers who were able to hit it today, which is no mean feat.  In drawing and painting, campers were painting watercolor landscapes—one was a pretty picture of the view from the Lower Bald, no doubt inspired by Camp-Out!  In creative writing, campers worked through an exercise where they drafted a story for a while, and when the staff member gave them a prompt, they had to incorporate that idea into the storyline.  After they had written a bit, for instance, he told them it had all been a dream, so they had to adapt their story to fit that new direction.  Fencing got theatrical; in one period, they had to act out a dramatic death sequence, and in another, they imagined they were humans defending the earth against marauding zombies.

After activity periods, campers normally have free time.  Today, however, we gathered in the West Field for a game of Predator/Prey, since we were rained out of that before Camp-Out.  Predator/Prey is a camp favorite; it’s a game that simulates the way the food chain works.  Campers are grouped as animals—insects, frogs, snakes, hawks—and they go around camp gathering “resources” and avoiding being “attacked” by other groups.  At the end of the game, we talk a little bit about the strategies they might have used—speed, camouflage—and how animals in the wild use similar strategies.  (Check out pictures from Camp-Out and June 19!)

Tonight everyone gathered in the Lodge for movie night—a showing of “Planet Earth.”  We are glad they had fun on Camp-Out and glad they are back safely in camp—and we are sure they will sleep well tonight!