I’m going to attempt to retrace some of the highlights from the last week’s programs and how this beautiful community has developed over the past ten days or so.
After we returned from our cabin trips, we continued our mantra of “work is love made visible.” Campers were presented with the opportunity to support several causes on our day of service. We went out into the surrounding areas and picked blueberries and raspberries for making jam, canoed around Lake Champlain to harvest invasive water chestnuts, and blazed trails throughout the F&W properties.
That same evening we took part in Rap Groups. During Rap Groups we invited the campers to join groups by how they identify by gender, male or female - controversial, I know. The objective is mainly to have a same-gender space to discuss how gender is defined, what is great/challenging about being male or female for each camper, and allow campers to express what they would want other gender(s) to understand about them. This particular group of campers was so impressive in their level of openness about struggles they have had as well as listening and being compassionate to their peers. When the groups came together in our cozy little lodge, they both brought a flame to light a shared fire and flowers to place in a common vase. Each camper read a statement written by someone in their group.
Here are some examples of what we heard:
One thing I’d like the women at SAM Camp to know about me is…
• I’m not in competition with other males.
• there are no “real” men. Society shouldn’t tell you who you are. Be your own person. I may look sexually biologically a male, but I’m my own person.
One thing I’d like the men at SAM Camp to know about me is…
• People already think that girls are perfect and girls have to earn that title.
• I don’t like people thinking I can’t do stuff as well just because my body shape is different.
It was a great night of expression and understanding. Many of the SAM campers are at different points of the journey of how well they understand themselves and how they intend to interact with different genders, but it seemed all of the campers were working very hard at appreciating everyone as individuals and learning how they could support them.
We didn’t waste any time before we were packing for our big six-day trips. We sent campers to northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Adirondacks for climbing, hiking and canoeing fun. From August 2 – August 7, campers were out working together, learning tons of new skills, seeing amazing things, and getting dirty and sore in places they didn’t know existed!
I have to admit that after working with 11-14 campers for a while I’ve come terms with what teens “experiencing” things looks like. I know it’s not always graceful, bubbly, appreciative, or even an awareness that “somewhere down the line this is going to be good for me.” As staff, we try to put a little spin on it if we hear something like, “Oh my God, this sucks.” Instead, this sometimes means, “I’ll never forget this, and will take this lesson with me forever.” So, hug your camper’s counselor and trip leaders!
All kidding aside, the campers returned, they had huge smiles, amazing stories, and not one of them raised their hand when asked if they’ll ever be the same after six days in the woods and a million experiences. Who could be after watching a snake devour a frog in real life, paddling miles of beautiful lakes, taking in views of beautiful country as far as you can see, or confronting fear of heights while clinging to a rock face? We finished celebrating the return of our trips with skits and campers being appreciated by other campers for their role in making the trip a great experience.
In case you’re interested some SAM Camp jargon you can use with your kids when they return; here is some having to do with “Fun Types”
Fun Type 1: Just plain old this is a blast laughing with your buddies and doing what you love to do kind of fun.
Fun Type 2: Is rarely a comfortable moment but more like something you will look back later and laugh at, like stepping up to your knee in mud.
Fun Type 3: Well that’s like “I want my Mamma” what am I doing here kind of fun (it usually takes a lot longer to look back and laugh at it).
Fun Type 4: Is just watching someone else go through Fun Type 2.
Ideally by using this speak to describe our experiences even in the midst of them, we’re teaching ourselves that there is an end to this discomfort and that I should not keep myself from challenges simply because they might cause discomfort. Later, I can appreciate and even have fun while looking back at all that comes with facing adversity.
So we’re in week three of our second session. Our Social Barometer Asana Guides (you’ll have to ask your camper what this means) say that the camp community is treating each other with great respect, representing ourselves well while in the midst of others, no cliques are forming and we are working hard.
We’ll be ramping up for our big all camp event, the F&W Fair! You should all be receiving emails about the F&W on August 13 and I encourage you to come as early so you don’t miss the SAM Camp performance that kicks it all off at 12 p.m. Campers will be picked up the next day between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. The only thing we have planned for this day is a 10 a.m. Silent Meeting. We’d love to have you all there.