What a jam-packed first day of camp! By the time Red Spruce Grove’s evening circle rolled around, everyone was ready for a good night’s sleep. For the first few days of the session, Red Spruce Grove is based at Indian Brook while we prepare for the hike to our wilderness site and begin to create our community. Today, Red Spruce Grovers learned about self-care in the wilderness, explored their comfort zones and edges in a fun activity, and started to learn more about one another. New and returning Grovers alike were forming friendships within our small group of twelve as we worked together to prepare for the hike. Campers studied trail maps, planned our route for tomorrow’s hike, learned how to purify water, and made their own trail mix. We talked about topographical lines on a map and even predicted where our hike will be flat, uphill, or downhill!

In the afternoon, campers had the chance to join in with Indian Brook’s choice time activities like swimming, creative arts, and barn chores.

This evening, we watched the sunset and listened to the loons at the Indian Brook waterfront. The group collectively went looking for salamanders at the edge of the water and enjoyed cooling off at the end of a warm, sunny day. The group then wrote a group values contract, which we will carry with us to the Grove. We had good conversations about what inclusivity really means, about how take others as they are, and that we all want to listen to our bodies and honor our feelings. We will check back in with our values contract mid-session and use it to guide our community creation.

When asked around the dinner table what the favorite part of the day was, some answers I received were: “making trail mix,” “walking through the woods with my friends,” “the whole morning,” and most inspiringly, “washing pots in the kitchen before dinner!”

Tomorrow morning, we’ll say goodbye to Indian Brook and begin the next stage of our journey. Campers are ready to take on the physical challenge of our 6.5 mile hike tomorrow, and are so excited to finally get “home” to the Grove. Red Spruce Grove’s (first-ever) set of camper leaders also geared up for a departure ceremony from Indian Brook in the morning where they will be in charge of carrying a coal (bundled in a type of slow-smoldering fungus called chaga, which we identified and harvested together) all the way from Indian Brook to RSG, where we will light our first fire with it! We are settling into our groove together, and tomorrow we can’t wait to settle into our mountaintop meadow home.

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