In the deep mid-winter, let’s close our eyes and think back to last summer when all was sunny and warm.
My first stop is The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. This was my sixth year as a volunteer counselor (see Post Nos. 351, 382, 405, 428 and 440).
Over my six years at camp, my thoughts have ranged from, “I’m never doing this again.” to “I’ll do it one more year.” to “I’ll do it five years to get my tote bag.”
When I’m away from camp, I think about how great the kids are and how fun it is. The first couple days of camp, which consist of going through volunteer orientation and meeting the other counselors, are long, uncomfortable and a little stressful. Once the kids arrive, all of that fades and the magic of camp takes over.
My main reason for wanting to stop after five years was my vacation days. There are a lot of other places I’d like to go and I figured five years was a good run and it was time for me to use those five to six days to do other things. At the beginning of 2018 my workplace combined our sick and vacation days, giving us way more days to use. One “problem” solved.
Another thought was to stop going to Hole In The Wall after five years, and to try getting into a SeriousFun camp closer to my home. It’s not cheap to fly to Connecticut, and there are two in the Midwest within driving distance – Flying Horse Farms in Gilead, Ohio and North Star Reach in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sounds good in theory, but after five years, I know the ropes at Hole In The Wall. I am familiar with the staff and the full-time counselors (who often repeat). I’m at a place where I frequently see campers (and even volunteer counselors) from past years. Yes, I could start over and eventually have that at a camp closer to home. But Hole In The Wall is the original. Like its founder, Paul Newman.
|Signs listing the distances to all the SeriousFun camps.|
My new goal for camp is 10 years. Until then I’ll take it one year at-a-time and re-evaluate.
The Summer 2018 theme was Camp Land and Peter Pan. These kids desperately need a week of feeling like Peter Pan. Yes, they are kids, but they live with one foot in an adult world, thinking about hospitals, doctors, treatments, medication, and how they are different from other kids. What a gift to be a part of Camp Land, a place that lets them put those adult thought aside and just be Peter Pan for a week. They can stay up later, eat what they want (this still makes me cringe, but I go with the flow), and do things they are unable to do at home, like swimming and zip-lining. They gain confidence, friends and that “raise a little hell” spirit. And hopefully, that feeling will last long after they return home.
I was hoping I would continue my streak and get a boy’s cabin for a third year in-a-row, but was back with the girls (age 12-13). I did have a “scare” and initially was told I would stay in a cabin this year. After unpacking, they told me they made a mistake and I was in Lu Lu’s Lodge. Whew! That streak stayed intact.
I loved being in a girl’s cabin again and they were a great group. Every year I feel like I’ve lucked out with an easy cabin. No big issues. Everyone got along. They were a joy!
|Two of my girls made a lot of cupcakes in the Cooking Zone for the July 4 Carnivarty.|
|At X-Pro, one of my campers and I watched the clouds while lying on our backs.|
It was a scorcher of a week at camp – so hot that some of the outdoor activities were kept indoors (opening night campfire and Carnivarty).
I “sacrificed” my July 4 to be at camp, and thought it would be cool to be there during the holiday. It was fun (Carnivarty was that night) and they had a parade around Cabin Circle, but no fireworks. There were some kids who had adverse reactions to loud noises, so ixnay on the ireworksfay.
|July 4 camp parade.|
During my morning off I got up a little early to the volunteer tower. The last time I did the tower it was my first year. I heard they improved the tower so wanted to do it again. After climbing the wall, I zip lined down. An exhilarating way to start the day!
|New and improved tower.|
|Tow of my girls scaling the wall. Way to go!|
|Another camper on the zip line. Weeeeeeee!|
|On the ropes!|
|The girls and counselors would pull one girl to one side and then after she said she was ready, |
she'd be let loose to swing. V cool!
After that I drove a borrowed car to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. I asked around camp for suggestions and that was one that kept popping up. Its well known in the area that Taylor Swift has a house there. I walked along the long, lovely beach and browsed the shops. V pretty! Watch Hill is a 90-minute drive each way, so that took up quite a bit of my time off (I had to be back to camp by 3 p.m. for the afternoon session). I will have to do more extensive research to come up with a place a little closer so I can spend more time actually sightseeing/exploring and less time driving.
|Watch Hill beach|
If you have never volunteered, I urge you to find something you enjoy, or a cause you believe in, and give it a try. Getting outside of your comfort zone is scary, but totally worth it. It helps to put the focus on who you are helping, and not on yourself.
Here’s to my seventh year at camp!