Camper Ben wrote about his experience as a Flying Cloud camper for a school project. His honesty and humor make this excerpt a must-read for anyone who has been to camp or is thinking about going. Big thanks to Ben for sharing his writing with all of us!

“As for school, it is a long day and much of the time students are not always focused on the task at hand, and there can be social issues as well that may distract.  Periods do seem to drag on, and friendships die every other day. It can seem like everytime you get on track, a suitcase of fistfights, drama, and other horrible things is hurled your way.  By the summer after 5th grade, I felt I needed a new way to learn; free from the distraction of time, people, or other things that were holding me back. I needed a sabbatical. Call it a retreat, call it a waste of time. Call it what you want, but I call it Flying Cloud Summer Camp. 

In the small town of Plymouth, VT lies a gem in our cruel world. A beacon of light, hope, and wood shavings. This is Flying Cloud Summer Camp. A camp without watches, electricity, days, conventional plumbing, and any sort of problems from school.  Some say, “How do you learn anything without electricity? Computers are what makes us learn, right?” Others, “How can you learn anything without a working toilet, that alone is a ‘no’ from me!” Believe me, I have contemplated all of this before. But I simply love the experience. 7 weeks in the woods with nothing but a duffle of your clothes, a couple knives, and 39 of your friends. I love learning the most here, and here where I learned to sharpen a knife. 

My first summer,  I was nervous, excited, and petrified of the toilets. I had no hope for myself, and I thought that I’d crash and burn. When I arrived, everybody at the camp seemed nice enough, and the toilets weren’t that bad. I found I was beginning to take a liking to this place. Everyday, we’d have one hour to do whatever we pleased. Some carved, some climbed trees, some stalked animals, and me, I had no idea what to do. I tried something new each day and the activities I did weren’t especially hard. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was the 5th day. I had done most of the activities they had during our free hours, except one. Knife sharpening, a grueling task with actual blood sweat and tears involved. One wrong move, and a 5 inch blade would be chopping away at your fingers as if they were baby carrots. I started the activity without any knowledge about knife sharpening.  I learned the basics quickly and started doing what I thought was the right idea. Until the knife slipped, leaving a small slice on my finger. I shed a tear, got help, bandaged my wound and sat down. Even though I got hurt, the experience was valuable to me, and to better my education I got up and resumed sharpening my knife, out of love for learning the skill. I kept on taking advice from a counselor and I did cut myself a few more times. But I didn’t stop until I had learned how to sharpen a knife. For the next 3 hours, that was the only thing that I did. I learned the skill, and kept learning when blood was flowing, and I’m so glad I did.” 

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