By Natalie Honan

The rubber spatula, or as we call it, the scraper, is an emblem of Saltash Mountain Camp. When we prepare for cabin trips, a scraper can be found in the kitchen to ease the process of food pack-out, in the Mac o Bac (our gear headquarters) to be sent out on trips, and most notably, on the goodbye scraper. Our goodbye scraper is a wheel on which a scraper is spun to determine how we will bid farewell to our campers as they embark on their exciting adventures. Among some silly salutations such as “Smell ya later!” and “See you soon, you big baboon!” is a more meaningful phrase we use here at SAM: “Remember who you are and what you represent.”

As many of our campers are experiencing the joys and challenges of independence, some for the first time in their lives, they are simultaneously faced with learning about their own identity. Moreover, when we ask our campers to remember who they are, we are also encouraging them to consider who else is here. The cabin trips, which set out two days after our campers’ arrival, help facilitate the consideration of these big questions by traveling through the backcountry in smaller groups and getting to know who they’ll be sharing community with over the next few weeks.

Generally, our campers return with a stronger grasp on not only hard skills, such as hiking, canoeing, fire-building, setting up tents, backcountry cooking, hanging bear bags, and water purification, but also with a little more insight to the intricacies of cohabitation, thinking about conflict resolution, expressing themselves, listening to others, and working toward being a loving and supportive member of our community.

Shortly, we will also begin our social justice curriculum with a program called “Identity Night”.Identity Night is a program that gives campers and counselors the chance not only to share but to celebrate, their experiences. Small group discussions allow for storytelling, and challenge community members with questions from: “What part of your identity are you most proud of?” to “What do you do that makes you feel alive?” Identity Night closes with a full-camp activity and familiarizes campers with concepts such as safe spaces and consent.

In the coming days, we will continue building our community through our daily all-camp rituals such as singing on the hill, silent meeting, chores, and various activities. We are so looking forward to growing more comfortable and confident here at Saltash Mountain and sharing our new beautiful home with each other!

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