Second Session

All of the arrivals yesterday went off without a hitch, and it feels great to have second session 2010 officially underway. I’m pleased to report that everyone made it to camp safely and on-schedule, and that all the campers had a blast getting settled into their cabins.

What a gorgeous first day of second session today has been! It was the quintessential summer day here today with blue skies, lots of sunshine, and a whole lot of smiling, happy faces. If you haven’t done so already, feel free to take a look at your daughters’ cabin pictures from the first night here:

Thanks also to all the families who were able to make it up to visiting day this year; it’s always nice to reconnect with the parents and siblings of our eight-week campers, to whom we tend to get pretty attached over the course of the summer.

In fact, what makes second session just a little bit different than first session is that those eight-weekers are already so immersed in the camp community that they set a comfortable, positive tone for the newcomers right from the very beginning. In turn, those new campers arrive having already experienced a few weeks of summer at home, and in their eagerness to have fun doing something new, add a sense of renewed excitement for those kids who have already been here for four weeks. The end result is always the same: second session absolutely flies by in a flash.

At Birch Trail, every camper in second session starts off in a new cabin, whether or not they are new to camp. Our eight-week campers pack their bags at the end of first session along with the four weekers, and then on the first day of second session, those eight-weekers move to a new cabin. When the second session campers arrive, everyone is new to the cabin (including the eight-week campers). This way everyone can unpack and pick beds at the same time, giving every camper a fresh start in the cabin. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are coming into an already intact cabin group.

This method inevitably results in lots of new friendships. Camp life tends to facilitate the easy creation of friendships, because we place great value on sharing, communication, and fun; the elements that make up long-lasting friendships are constantly encouraged here.

Learning how to seek out and connect with someone who shares the same likes and values helps kids feel confident as they move through their school years and into adulthood. Children who attend camp from a young age have been proven to enjoy smoother, healthier, and happier transitions into high school, college, and work environments. I’ve always thought that this makes a great deal of sense because what is at the core of those life-changing transitions is the quality of the company we keep and how that company makes us feel about ourselves. For those kids who are confident in their ability to make new friends, adolescence and early adulthood are certainly a little bit more comfortable than they might otherwise be.

With this in mind, we start emphasizing the importance of being a good friend from the very first day of each session. Through our Sunday Services, council fires, (you can read our blogs from first session that explained these activities) and our general camping style, we teach the Birch Trail girls that the key to being a good friend lies in their dedication to being kind, supportive, honest, and compassionate.

Through our camp traditions, direction from counselors, and unique programming, BT campers have constant opportunities to learn and practice the art of being a good friend. Even those campers who are shy, tentative, introverted, or homesick in their first few days eventually come to realize that the camp environment is a safe one in which they can strike up a conversation with another camper.

I’m pleased to report that already–mere hours into the session–I’m seeing evidence that our methods are working and that in the morning when each camper wakes up, she will know that she has a friend to talk to and share breakfast with. Not a bad start to the session. Not bad at all.

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