Second session story time

All is well these happy days at BT, and I have to admit that I love best this time of year when we are right in the middle of the summer—right in the middle of all the good stuff. The first rotation of activities has begun and the kids are settling in to their new routine. The weather has been treating us well, today is sunny and 75.

Last night I told a bedtime story to cabin M-6. The story involves a lot of participation from the campers and they were all so funny together and worked so well as a team. I had to remind myself that these girls had only been together for 5 days–it seemed like they had known each other for years. I’m pleased to see that the new cabin groups have really been getting along well so far this week; new friendships are cropping up left and right. In fact, there is much that is new around here these days. Camp life is, by design, pretty different from life at home for most of our campers. It is in that special home-away-from-home atmosphere that children grow and mature, learning new things in a decidedly neutral and safe setting. But as we all know, not every part of growing up and learning new things is comfortable; more often than not, we need to experience the unfamiliar in order to learn how to cope with adversity.

There are a whole lot of transitions taking place throughout the first week of camp, and none of what goes into those adjustments is lost on me. Getting acclimated to a new location, schedule, menu, and living arrangements can be particularly tricky for children–some of whom are away from home for the very first time. But even for those campers who have been coming to BT for many years, things at camp are not always as comfortable or familiar as they are at home. Learning to adjust to new foods, new activities, new company, and new group-living environments teaches kids how to take bigger, more stressful obstacles in stride later in life. Though sharing a living space with the habits and personalities of several other people may not seem like such a life-changing experience in itself, it has the potential to translate to much larger challenges in the campers’ adult lives.

We know that through camp-specific obstacles like homesickness or leadership opportunities, kids inevitably develop a new sense of resilience. When they move past a rough patch and begin really enjoying their time here, they realize that perseverance really does pay off. Of course, transitioning through any kind of hurdle only takes place with the help of peers and counselors, and a whole lot of support. Because of their extensive training, BT counselors know what to look for and how to help when one of their campers is missing home or feeling under the weather. It is the counselors’ job to help smooth out the road and make things as fun and safe as possible, and the network of support for both campers and staff is strong and vast enough to handle pretty much anything.

It’s true that sometimes things can get a little messy or dirty at camp, and it can get pretty noisy in our lodge with all the cheering that goes on. But even though the rustic setting of camp can be trying at times, it is also what makes it so fun and special. And every summer I feel pretty lucky to see that whatever adjustments take place here, our campers come out the other side feeling stronger, more confident, and more relaxed. And that is a pretty incredible sight to see, indeed.

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