Camp is Camp

Greetings from Hilltop. I hope the tautological title is okay. I wanted to make the point that despite this crazy year, despite the COVID protocols, Camp feels the same as it always does. I logged into the old blog software to write this, and saw the title of my first post, “Camp is Back,” and “Camp is Camp” just popped into my brain. Hopefully it works for all of you.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve had a cabin of campers come up to me to sing a silly song they made up. We had an Evening Fire. Staff helped a homesick camper. I watched a 19-year-old counselor, who I’ve known since she was a 10 year old Junior Session camper, masterfully wrangle her campers as one activity ended and it was time to go the next, owning her authority as a counselor while being fun and loving at the same time. We’ve dealt with a record-breaking heat wave, and we’ve adjusted our rules, practices, and programs to make Camp safe until the temperature returns to normal (hopefully tomorrow, according to the forecast). Campers rode horses, sailed, swam, and made art. Campers started to get to know cabinmates beyond the first few they were attracted to or knew before this summer. In other words, it was very similar to any 24 hour period at this point in the session in any other year I’ve been here. I’m so pleased. Going into this summer, I had a sense that the essence of Camp would shine through all the COVID stuff, but seeing it is different than theorizing about it. I’m awfully glad to see it.

Not that everything is exactly the same. We COVID tested every single camper, CT, and Helping Hand yesterday. That certainly wouldn’t have happened in a normal summer. It was a pretty amazing logistical feat to pull off, but for each camper, it was just a few seconds of swabbing. We should have those results on Wednesday or Thursday. Assuming all those are negative, all unvaccinated campers will have had three negative tests over the course of 8 days, and all vaccinated campers will have had two over the same period. With that in place, and only vaccinated staff going on and off the property, we can have as much confidence as we possibly can in our “bubble.” We won’t be able to drop every single precaution, but we will be able to relax a little. Most significantly, we’ll be able to go to optional masks outdoors the rest of the session in most settings (again, assuming we don’t get any positive cases). That will be nice for everyone, and make Camp feel even more like normal.

Thank you, once again, for all you’ve done to make Camp possible this summer. Most of you signed up before you even knew what Camp would look like this summer. You stayed flexible, you dealt with our changes and so (SO) many emails. We can’t say thank you enough. Because of all of that, tonight, campers are settling down on in their cabins and tents on the shores of Westsound. Guitar music is playing as they drift to sleep. Tomorrow, they’ll wake up to another beautiful Orcas Island day, the bell will ring, and breakfast will be served. After the year we’ve all had, this Camp experience is just what the doctor ordered.