Letting her find her camp home

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We’ve been having a huge amount of fun in a short period of time.

Friday was five year camper day, a special day dedicated to campers who have been at Birch Trail for 5 summers or more.  We had over 100 campers at five year camper day.  We added up the years of our five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten year, etc campers and staff and we had over 780 years of camp represented at five year camper day.

Saturday and Sunday were our all camp color war, Pandemonium.  You can read more about Pandamonium here:

Pandamonium is a great way for the campers to take a break from their normal daily schedule, join together as a team and work across age groups to form new friendships.  It may sound crazy, but dividing the camp into five teams that compete with one another actually helps to unify our camp into one group.  As an added bonus the girls get to dress in colorful, vibrant outfits and sing and cheer for two days!

Birch Trail really celebrates the 4th of July!  We start the morning with the flag raising, followed by waffles, strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.  As you have seen from today’s photos, the waffles and whipped cream have a way of winding up on the girls faces.

After breakfast the girls create a cabin skit about America and then it’s off to our famous Frosting Fight.  Bowls of frosting are spread out on an athletic field and the girls just get messy and have some good old fashioned fun.  We see these messy times as a way for the girls to shed their worries and truly relax.  Getting messy signifies the girls being ok with who they truly are by not having a need to be dressed up, look a certain way or appeal to any specific standard.  That’s a wonderful need that camp can fill- the need to just be silly and not have to worry about what you look like.

I hope you enjoyed the short explanation of these Birch Trail traditions.   In a conversation with a parent a few days ago I realized that these traditions may seem second nature to us, but are not second nature for all families.  This same parent wrote a great blog about this subject;  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

 

Letting her find her camp home….

I’m not a writer.  I’m just another camp mom who had a conversation with Gabe where he commented that my thoughts would make a great blog post.  Be kind when you read this, it’s my first ever blog post, here goes!

I went to sleep away camp.  An amazing place where I spent 14 years playing, learning, growing and living with my best friends.  I grew up living “10 for 2” as we used to say, so believe me I know how my daughter feels when she writes that she is having the “best summer ever.”  BUT, I didn’t go to Birch Trail.  With a heavy heart we made the decision not to send my daughter out east to my summer home, instead, looking at camps nearby.  When we started our search I knew I wanted a place that felt like my camp, looked like my camp, heck, I just wanted her to go to my camp, but with that door closed I knew the most important thing was that she go somewhere that would become HER home.  I wanted my girly to not just go to camp, but to LOVE camp.   So I called my friend from college who had just sent her twins off for the first time to Birch Trail. Carrie was the only person I had ever met who was as nuts about camp as I was.  I meet people every day who went to camp, but they didn’t LIVE for camp the way Carrie and I did.   We often talked about our summers away, the songs we sang and the games we played.  For both of us, camp was so much a part of who we were.  That’s what I wanted for Taryn!!!  Birch Trail it is!

So, now I’ve sent my girl off for her second summer at BT and as I get her letters and log on to see her smiling face I’m thrilled and disappointed all at the same time.  Thrilled because every day her smile gets bigger and bigger and her letters say how much she “loves” camp and is having the most “amazing summer ever.”  Beyond thrilled when Gabe tells me that she never looked back after getting on the bus and that she is definitely an 8 weeker.  But, still, disappointed because it’s not MY camp.  Disappointed may be the wrong adjective to describe how I’m feeling and maybe it’s just confused or lost but let me tell you why.  Every night I log on and see Taryn having the time of her life but I have no idea what she is doing.  However, if I log on to my old camp’s web site, I can tell you what every activity is and what they are doing every hour of every day.  As you BT alums will know, things don’t change much over the years at most camps.  Tradition is tradition and while campers may come and go, the traditions get passed down to the next generation.  However, looking at these pictures leave me feeling left out.  I don’t know the BT traditions.  So I make a decision.  I can wallow in the fact that she’s not at my camp for the next seven or eight summers, or I can embrace the fact that she’s happy as a clam, it’s not about me, and suck it up and learn the BT way.  Suck it up it is!

In my efforts to suck it up and learn, I spend countless hours over the summer bothering Carrie with my texts and calls.  These are just some of the many burning questions I have asked recently…

Why is my child covered in flour?

What is Biffer?

Why are the girls always covered in food? (waffles, frosting, etc)

What is Pandemonium?  Why are there five colors in Pandemonium (for the love of god Gabe, five?  Really?  Do you know how hard it is to find and pack clothes of every primary color in the rainbow? Can’t you just have two colors like every other camp?)

Why is it not called color war?

What is a Spuh and why did my daughter get thrown in the lake for “breaking” one?

Why are the second oldest girls called BLT? Isn’t that a sandwich?

Every day for the past two summers I find myself texting or calling Carrie to translate what I’m seeing into something I can understand.  And she does, happily!  She tells me with such excitement you would think she was still there herself.  Exactly as I would describe my camp experiences to someone who asked, which is all I ever wanted for my daughter in the first place.  In the end, I may have lost the battle to have a completely shared camp experience with my girl, one where we can speak the exact same language about tradition and friendship and summer home.  But I realize that I have clearly won the war.  She has found her own summer home.  A place that for so many moms who are BT alum is just as special as my place.  Hopefully as the years go by, I won’t need as much help in deciphering the photos and Taryn and I can talk about camp together just like Carrie and I always have.  Where we both think we went to the best camp in the world and where we can always speak the same language, maybe just a different dialect, when it comes to tradition and friendship and summer home.

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