A different perspective

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It’s been a beautiful few days here at camp. Our weather has been perfect and the kids have been having a blast. I often reflect on how lucky I am to have such a wonderful job. Part of my job is interacting with lots of wonderful people and in turn become good friends in the process. Our first week’s doctor and his family were a pleasure to have at camp. Their daughter is a current camper and their two younger kids play with our children during the week they are at camp. During meals we would often talk about Birch Trail and the steps we take to build a supportive environment here for our campers and staff.

As we talked about camp I really liked hearing their views of Birch Trail and I realized that it would be great for all of you to hear another perspective on camp. I enjoy writing our blog and will continue to do so, however, my voice is not the only one you should be hearing. This summer I would like to have parents, campers and staff contribute to our blog. So, here’s our first guest blogger, I hope you enjoy hearing about her week at Birch Trail.

I just spent an amazing week at Camp Birch Trail as the wife of the camp doctor and wanted to share that experience with all the mothers, fathers, and loved ones of campers.  While not at camp, I am the mom, probably like most of you, desperately refreshing the camp website looking for a glimpse of my daughter.  I examine each picture closely- trying to discern if she is happy that day or what activity she is doing.  What I can tell you is that in this camp- a picture rarely tells the whole story.  Camp is so much more than what we see in these pictures.  While we see pictures of kids waterskiing, you can’t hear the ski counselors and cabin mates all cheering every single time a girl gets up on her skis.  We see pictures of skits but don’t hear all the kids laughing along with them.  We see pictures of kids dressed up for a dance party but don’t experience the amazing sight of 200 girls dancing in unison their favorite songs (without worrying about boys around).  What you don’t see in pictures is the support that the girls give each other.  Every sick call for my husband would involve 30-40 girls- but don’t worry about that high number.  Only 5-10 really had a complaint, the other girls simply came along to provide moral support.  You can’t hear the sounds of 20- 8 and 9 year olds screaming “Lower Maples are the best” at their tables or TMs dancing around the lodge after finishing a meal.  You don’t get to hear the entire camp chanting “In the Lake!!!” 

Probably like many of you, we live in a community that pushes kids to be the best with private dance/voice lessons, hitting coaches, etc.  So much emphasis is placed from an early age on being the best.  Birch Trail allows our kids a break from this competitive world.  It emphasizes that all the kids are winners.  It emphasizes “No mean girls”.  It promotes “No cliques”.  The services that Barbara leads on being kind still bring a tear to my eyes.  All of the Chernovs really focus on campers being kind to each other and developing strategies to deal with cliques, gossip, and all of the “horrors” that can occur socially these days to our girls.  These services are effective at Birch Trail.  Time and time throughout camp, I would see a girl sitting by herself and get sad- thinking this could easily be my shy daughter.  Within seconds though, counselor and campers would come up and sit with that once lonely girl.  We try to bring these lessons home.  Knowing as parents that our lessons are frequently muted, instead, we frequently ask our children- “What would Barbara tell you to do?”

Birch Trail is our daughter’s happy place and it is very clear why!  Gabe, Barbara, LBD, Dylan, Maura, the counselors, specialty staff, and trippers make Birch Trail the best.   I wish that each parent could have the experience of watching their child thrive at camp- it is so much more than the pictures.  Our girls’ “second home” is a place filled with laughter, kindness, and most of all love.  

 Just don’t take our week as camp doc next year,

The Lebensburgers

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