…And One Giant Leap for Children-Kind

Today has been a lovely Monday and first session has gotten off to such a wonderful start! The weather has been fantastic and has been giving us the perfect setting to enjoy a whirlwind of favorite programs and activities. Among them, we’ve enjoyed a rousing game of Biffer (a BT favorite for more than 25 years!), tamarack initiation, the L6, L7 Isle Royale trips, and—of course—TONS and TONS of cheering! We’ve also had a really fun time participating in the BT-London 2012 Olympics (which involved a proper English tea party), and we were treated to an extra special New Zealand-inspired celebration, led by L1 counselor, Britt, a tried-and-true Kiwi who was a huge hit showing the whole camp some her homeland’s coolest traditions and dances. Activities are in full swing and are going extremely well, and we’re delighted to see the campers taking full advantage the new projects we’re offering this year, such as guitar, fencing, and riflery. Through it all, the entire camp community has really come together as a happy, busy unit ready to take on any and all adventures!

By now you’re likely feeling a mixed bag of emotions about your daughter being away from home. Going away to camp, particularly to an overnight camp, is a big step for kids. Being separated from parents, meeting loads of new people, and trying lots of new challenging activities— all these can be a little scary. Imagining it all, it’s easy to worry and find yourself asking “What if…?” kinds of questions. In fact, it’s just as common for parents to be scared and worried, too. They also can suffer from a certain amount of “separation anxiety.”

There are a couple of things that can help both parents and kids feel better about this. First, realize that this is perfectly normal and all parents feel nervous about being away from their children for extended periods of time. Likewise, all children see their parents as their basic source of comfort and can at first be reluctant to go without it. Being away from each other requires both parents and children to develop a new sense of trust. Parents must trust the camp (its directors and staff, in particular) to take good care of their children, and each child must learn to trust themselves and their abilities away from home. This is one of the reasons why we stress the importance of healthy exchanges between you and your daughter via letters throughout the summer. Keeping your letters newsy, encouraging and upbeat will let your daughter know that you are behind her 100%. And if you do get a sad or negative letter, we urge you to remember the two-letter rule: You may find that you receive a “homesick” letter or a letter complaining of some situation, but by the time you respond or contact us, that situation has often subsided. We welcome your calls of course, but do understand that letters are often cathartic for your daughter. Once vented, those feelings of loneliness or frustration often disappear. Do let us know if you get two unhappy letters in a row or if you hear of something we should be aware of so we can look into the situation and get back to you. And—most importantly—remember that this is all a part of your daughter’s journey toward a fulfilling, happy, and memorable summer that will have her growing by leaps and bounds.

Fortunately, Birch Trail is the ideal place for this kind of growth. Here, we offer a safe, structured environment where each girl finds plenty of fun things to do, but more importantly, caring adults trained to encourage her to make her own decisions, and to be more independent and self-confident. We know it can take time, but we’ve seen thousands of children succeed at camp and go on to find themselves significantly better prepared for challenges later in life.

As for the fun and adventure we experience here at camp, the girls had a blast on Friday night playing a game called, “Sardines,” which is like a reverse hide-and-seek where specialty staff  members hide, and teams head out to find their assigned specialty staff member. Then, when and the teams find the staff members they join them in their hiding place and squeeze in like sardines until the entire team finds them and joins in!

Tonight’s evening program is village night! The maples all received boarding passes for Maple Airlines this afternoon in their mailboxes, and will be going on fabulous voyages through camp. The Lindens will be playing a “Capture the Frisbee” game, and finally the tamaracks will be playing “College Wars,” where they mix cabins and battle each other as Wisconsin versus Michigan. A regional favorite! They’ll be playing a capture the flag game, a human scrabble game, and an intense scavenger hunt!

Camp really is a wonderful experience for everyone; for both parents and kids, it’s a chance to grow up a little. In fact in most cases and for most BT girls, those steps toward adulthood actually end up being more like giant leaps! Here at Birch Trail, there’s absolutely nothing to stop us from reaching for the moon!

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