Bright orange, tiny salamanders have been bravely crossing Route 100 towards the Woodward waterfront. Their brilliance in the face of challenge reminds me of some of the stories campers share of their struggles, from hiking Mansfield or the Mahoosucs range, or in overcoming homesickness. This week, with most staff acclimating to life in the Green Mountains, they are building friendships, disconnecting from technology, and in many ways, going through the process that campers and teens will experience in just over a week.

The longer than usual winter condensed our time to work on our property, from building maintenance to tree removal and making the surfaces and grounds shine. The alpacas, goats, and sheep are making their rounds, taking care of the underbrush and grass around the Woodward property. Hobart, our newest calf, is adjusting to a harness, in time for teens and campers to take him on walks.

Last week, some staff became Lifeguard or Wilderness First Responder certified, while others who will lead work projects, sharpened their building skills and comfort with using tools. About a dozen staff worked on their facilitation skills, from leading activities with campers to identifying and seeking teachable moments.  This summer, The American Camp Association will be visiting and accrediting Indian Brook. I will be visiting the Aloha Foundation as an ACA visitor for my first time. This is important not only to provide a fresh lens to what another multi-camp foundation looks like, it also informs my practice coming back to F&W with a different viewpoint.

This winter and spring, camp directors focused on our social justice, inclusivity and equity (I&E) activities and goals as an organization. A big part of that work involved considering the camper experience and making the connection between the training we provide staff, with an emphasis on race and class, to the impact on the campers’ experiences. As an organization, we approved a five-year I&E Plan. Now our year-round staff members are charged with setting goals and benchmarks, and a means of measuring progress to hold ourselves accountable for this important work.

Our biggest news – joining forces with the Ninevah Foundation – solidifies the attention and focus we place on sustainable conservation of our land and water. We’re excited about the possibilities, from providing greater awareness of the need to steward our environment, to preserving the land and water from invasive plants and pests that threaten the ecosystem we’ve come to know here in the Plymouth Valley.

The paths, cabins, and woods are quiet, awaiting campers’ and teens’ boisterous laughter and singing. The goats’ bleating does not make up for the joy we feel, hearing voices on the water, bells ringing, and the clattering of meals. After drop-off on June 27, we hope you’ll stop for a bite to eat, catch up on what’s new at F&W, and write a postcard for your young person or teen.

If you have any camp specific questions, please contact your camp director or call the main office at 802-422-3761. You can also reach me at [email protected] or 802-422-3761 ext. 250.

Travel safely, in good health, for we can’t wait to see you!

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