This past July marked my fifth year volunteering for a week at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp (see Post Nos. 351, 382, 405 and 428).
This summer’s theme was Make Magic! Do Good! Camp is a magical place for these kids (and us adults too) and it does everyone good to get their yearly camp fix.
I was assigned once again to a boy’s cabin. Yee haw! (My week’s theme was Wild West so that fits). And again, they were in the 10-11-year-old age range.
During Volley-O (volunteer orientation) they talked more about us helping to facilitate the campers making friends. Sometimes we counselors get caught up in making a connection with a kid and don’t think about guiding them to make friends with others. Hillary, the camp director, read a letter from a mom whose son had just finished his second year at camp. Her son was not good at making friends and only had one friend at home. Last year she arrived to pick him up from camp and he was happily playing with a counselor. Which was great - he enjoyed his week at camp. As he prepared to go to camp this summer he told her many times, “I’m not going to make any friends.” What happened when she picked him up this year? He was happily playing with another camper and was excited to introduce her to his “new best friend.” We all got teary. As Hillary said, we may not see much progress in that first week of camp, or even the second, but we are laying the foundation for progress in the future.
|One of my campers made this in woodshop.|
|The song lyric was right in line for friend-making!|
I rebounded from my worst night sleeping in a cabin last year, to a great night in a girl’s cabin this year. Not a peep from anyone and I actually did sleep.
My co-volunteer counselors this year were Jimmy (who happened to be the camp CEO – no pressure there!) and Taylor. My full-time counselors were Dante and Clay, and Bryan (“Coach”) and another Taylor (female). They were all amazing and so great to work with. I did see my two full-time counselors from last year – Cam and Will. And I met Will’s dad, Bill, who was in Will’s cabin this year. I was jealous of Bill – he lives close enough to drive and brought his bicycle to ride on his time off.
Speaking of time off, this year I didn’t have any compelling place to go, like Mystic, CT, the Stamford, CT cemetery to visit Gilda Radner or Newport, RI and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Where to go, where to go… I settled on Stonington, CT. I read an online article on the best small towns in New England and Stonington was close by. Actually, not far from Mystic. I borrowed Jimmy’s car (again, no pressure with the CEO’s car!) and set off on a beautifully sunny morning. The clincher with this town was the name. Last year I spent a day in lovely Stonington, Maine so decided I would see how this town compared.
Stonington is lovely and historic, serving as the spot where the town defended the Royal British Navy during the Battle of 1812. I wandered down Water Street until I came to duBois Beach. From that vantage, you can see Long Island, NY to the right and Rhode Island to the left. I sat and looked out to the sea for a bit. So nice! I browsed some shops on my walk back to the car and found a cute pair of flowy pants in Indigo Bleu. Had lunch at Breakwater – a cod BLT. I very much enjoyed my lunch and view.
|View from Breakwater|
Back at camp, I finished out the week with the fun boys. They played lots of Monopoly Deal (I tried, but couldn’t quite catch on). I joined in with some games of Spoons and War. One of the boys learned how to throw a playing card. It went far! I tried but couldn’t quite get that either. We played Silent Ball, and a new one for me – Silent Football (Mr. Commissioner Sir). I also learned Dragon. Too much to explain here, but fun. For once my cabin didn’t play Mafia.
I saw one girl from my yellow cabin from 2015. She was part of the Hero’s Journey, which is a week-long wilderness adventure for those who have aged out of camp. The Hero’s Journey kids came to the dining hall on the last day and I was so excited to see her. I was also excited that I remembered her name. She remembered me too. It’s moments like this that keep me coming back to camp.
Another successful week at camp, and I achieved my “Five Year Tote Bag! Ahhhh.” Yes, I could buy one at the gift shop, but where is the accomplishment in that? Next up, the “Ten Year Blanket.”
I tried my best to facilitate friendships this week. Instead of me playing a game with just one camper, I’d make a point to include others to join in, or even get them to play a game together. They seemed to get along well and I hope their new friendships carry on after camp. I know I carry the love of camp and all of their smiling faces with me all year long.
|One of the volunteers watching the campers play in cabin circle|