Timberlake Week Five

There are few gifts more wonderful than a beautiful sunny day after a few days of grey skies and pouring rain, and after a string of storms we got two! The first week of 2nd Half was a week of constant change in the weather, with the ups and downs that erratic weather can sometimes produce. But as always we made the best of even the muddiest trails, dampest clothing and the wettest days and were rarely thrown off track. In many ways the arrival of sunshine midway through the week reminded us to take advantage of such gifts and also to learn to adapt to the challenges that living outdoors presents.

As a community we are re-forming and re-learning to live together with new friends and with the new dynamics that are created. But it has been a very positive and empowering experience and I have been so proud of everyone for their commitment to build a community that is fully inclusive and safe for everyone. Now that is not to say that we don’t have our conflicts and that there are moments when the challenges of living 150 strong can create a storm or two. But like the thunderstorms that hung over camp at the start of the week, we weather each storm and are made stronger in the process. I’d like to think of each of these moments as a chance for us to live out on our “growing edge” a little bit and for the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and of others. Often it is the challenges that we face together that bring us closer together and are certainly an integral part of the Timberlake experience. It’s what I like to call “authentic living” at its best!

Sundays at camp mean a late wake-up, slower pace and a lazier approach to living. With about a 1/3 of the camp out on trips and those of us in camp ready to take it easy after an excellent TL week, today was all about kicking back and enjoying dry skies and the splendid lack of humidity. We slept in late (7:30 am) and then munched down on a tasty Bagel Bar Buffet. We also enjoyed our first long Silent Meeting of the half and a relaxing hour down at the Waterfront. After stuffing ourselves with wicked good enchiladas for lunch, we rested some more before Cabin Afternoon, met again for dinner, played a rowdy game of Sticks, took a quick dip in the lake and then the campers headed for bed and I headed for my computer to write you this note. It was just a beautiful day in Vermont and again and again I was reminded of why I absolutely love this place!

For some of our campers this is the end of their first amazing week and for 30 others, a fabulous week six. But for every one of us, it has been pure TL. The arrival of 75 new campers and six staff infused us with a great new energy and enthusiasm and from the first day we were full steam ahead. As with the start of First Half, homesickness crept in a bit (the rains not helping much), but by the end of the week it was hard to walk through the camp without hearing silly laughter and seeing huge, uncontrollable smiles. The challenges are still there for some, but I have seen so many campers step in to welcome and care for the new boys and to help them with the transition from home to camp. I have been very proud of our full season campers, especially the Senior Lodgers who have stepped up as incredible leaders, for their open arms and desire to bring the new folks into the Timberlake community.

Second half always seems to move quicker than the first and with the Fair hiding in the distance; we don’t waste a minute jumping right back into program. While the last several days have seen a number of campers and staff head out on Trips, many more of us have remained in camp to take advantage of all that we have to offer.

Monday morning found many campers working on their Woodsman, our entry level wilderness skill set. With the support of a large majority of our staff, the new campers set about learning safe and proper axe, fire, stove, knot and knife skills. The others? Many continued working towards their more advanced ratings, such as the Basic canoe rating and Gardener, one of the advanced ratings from the Farm. Others spent the mornings:

  • working on their swimming
  • building a new stairs to the Upper Lodge
  • constructing a “turnpike” to Otters cabin
  • Dot Painting
  • With full body camouflage
  • harvesting many goodies from the garden; raspberries, blueberries, sour cherries, herbs, garlic, kale, beets, squash, cucumbers, peas
  • basketball
  • playing with the goats
  • work on straw boxes
  • sour cherry jam making
  • building water bars on damaged trails in the rain
  • exploring Austrailian Aboriginal art
  • sauna
  • solo canoe portages
  • milling tomatoes

The afternoons brought continued skill practice as always, but also the wonderful mix of new and diverse offerings. The first night we brought the boys to the Fair Grounds to play a favorite All Camp Game called 3 Kingdoms. The rise and fall of our three Feudal Lords has never been so much fun and went off without a hitch. Of course that was only an appetizer for Elements, one of most theatrical and fantastic All Camp Games ever that we played Saturday afternoon. I’ve posted some photos of the main characters that are very worth checking out. And the rest of the week? It is one that we comically refer to as “normal’, but it was anything but.

Cabins went on overnights at various local shelters, watched counselors make fools of themselves while introducing the Activity Areas for the summer, carried heavy canoes to Indian Brook to prepare for trips, ran around the lake, sat in silence, sang their lungs out, spent a full morning as a camp pulling weeds in the potato patch, and playing games of Arbitrary Kickball. But that was just the beginning of the 2008 August Session…Cabin Switch with IB, Building Debris Shelter, Beading, Soccer,
Non-Stop Slack’Em, Working in the kitchen, Learning Wet Exits, Fishing, Canoeing, Games in the Rain, Trail Work, Living Art, Rope Swing, King of the Monster, Lake runs, Long Distance Swims and crafty chipmunks that will scamper up and grab a cookie right our of your hand…a summer that will go down in TL history.

We have frequently encouraged the campers to send letters home and hope that they have done just that, but being a former boy myself I know the reality all too well. But we can keep our fingers crossed right? We are also looking at the possibility of recording some audio tracks of morning songs and getting them out to all TL families, but I will keep you updated.

Please don’t hesitate to call if or email if you have any questions or concerns.

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