There is so much that happens in a week at Tamarack Farm that it is hard to pick what to write about in this week’s blog.  Here are the highlights from the past four days. Even though this blog is long, I still feel like you are getting just a tiny glimpse into TF.

Chicken Harvest

The beginning of Farm Party prep really started on Thursday with our Chicken Harvest. The chicken harvest allows campers to go through the entire process; from catching the chicken, to killing it, plucking, gutting, cleaning, butchering and then even cooking and eating the chicken.

Campers who have any interest or want to know more are required to attend a meeting with our Farm Manager, Chantal Deojay, on the day before the harvest.  Chantal does an excellent job of speaking about the process, including the philosophy and the emotional work of harvesting the chickens that we have spent the summer caring for.  Once campers have attended this meeting and chosen to participate in the harvest, they watch Chantal demonstrating the entire process.  After her preview of this process, we give them a chance to change their minds and they can decide to opt-out at this juncture.

We discuss with all campers any feelings that might be coming up and the importance of taking this process seriously.

This year, we had about 20 campers participate in our harvest, which went extremely well. Everyone was respectful, caring and did a lovely job of checking in with each other and the group.  We even talked about how to be respectful around folks who chose not to participate.

Activism Panel

On Thursday night we had the honor of having two incredible speakers participate in a panel on activism.  Rebecca Balint, who is the Senate Majority Leader in Vermont, and Steffen Gillom who is president and founder of the first-ever chapter of the NAACP in Vermont, spoke about their paths to activism. Two of our campers facilitated the conversation, small groups and question session that created our evening’s program.  It was a powerful evening of learning and, the next morning, many campers commented on feeling extra invigorated and excited about activism during our time together at Silent Meeting.

Spanish Day

Friday was Spanish Language day.  Lunch and dinner served as opportunities to appreciate the number of native and bilingual Spanish speakers in our community, both campers and staff.  All announcements and both meals were held in Spanish, while those who did not speak were asked to try to follow and ask for help when needed.  We learned some new songs in Spanish, campers experienced what it is like to not speak the language everyone else is speaking and how humbling it can be to not really know how to express what you want to say.

All Camp Work Project

On Saturday morning, we gathered at least half the camp to help us spread gravel in our almost-finished Art Barn, which we have been working on all summer.  It was a joy to see campers figure out the best way to get the massive pile of gravel from the truck spread in the right way for the surface area around the barn.  When you pick up campers next Sunday, please take a minute to go and look at the building they finished building this summer.  It is quite impressive.  The campers who did not participate were decorating and harvesting for Farm Party, cleaning or working on projects for Fair.

Farm Party

Saturday night was the pinnacle of our  harvesting, chicken harvest and a lot of incredible farm work.  Everything that did not come from our farm for the meal had to be bartered for by performance.  During dinner, there was a stage and campers signed up to barter for things such as salt, olive oil, and ketchup.  The meal was amazing the night was beautiful and the performances were delightful!!  Just take a look at the photos on Smugmug and also check out our TF Photographer of the Day gallery!

Sleeping on the Lawn

Counselors offered the option of sleeping outside and about 20 campers took up this suggestion. They slept in front of the farmhouse on a beautiful clear night under the stars.

Sunday Silent Meeting

There has been some conversation this summer about the purpose and value of Silent Meeting.  While I don’t think all campers agree, we have shared with them some of the guidelines and expectations around Silent Meeting: The importance of sitting in silence together as a community.  The work of teaching our bodies to be still and having to settle every part of ourselves.  The work that it takes to be still and the fact that, though it is often not pleasant, we gain skills that help guide us.  We usually have about a 15-minute meeting each day and tend to go a little longer on Sundays.  This past Sunday we had a 40-minute meeting.  A number of campers shared that, though it was hard, it was in many ways the best meeting of the week.

Learning Hard Lessons of Community and Leadership

The last thing I want to highlight was a bit unplanned.  As many of you parents will be able to relate to, running a camp that pushes kids to work, do chores and take care of the things that need to happen to make a community function smoothly can be incredibly frustrating.  This all surfaced on Sunday when our cooks felt a lack of respect around chores, dishes, campers sneaking sweets and other things from the kitchen.  To express their views, the cooks decided to come late to lunch to try to create some understanding of their frustration.  What ended up happening is what Farm & Wilderness and Tamarack Farm embody, campers began to call on themselves as a community and how they were not living up to their abilities.  They expressed how they were not doing chores well and how they should be doing a better job with dishes and the importance of respecting and not being “entitled” (campers’ words) around service work. This was a culmination of everything we are trying to create in this space, how we build community, care about our space and providing room for campers to take control.  They created teams of volunteers, made lunch, and spent all afternoon — while the TF staff were in a meeting — cleaning the entire farmhouse, kitchen, living room, dining room, porch.  It was an incredible sight to see and shined the light on what the real lessons of camp are about at Tamarack Farm.

– Andrea

Simplicity, Peacemaking, Integrity, Community, Equity, and Service

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