First Session has begun!
Greetings from Hilltop. It feels great to write that once again. First Session has begun, and with it, the Four Winds Summer of 2019, our 93rd. Staff week has been fantastic. This community of young adults has been working on getting ready for the campers’ arrival for over a week, and for some of them, nearly three weeks. That process of building the staff community, defining our values, and training on the skills they’ll need to work with our campers was rewarding, and a critical part of any summer. Still, we always reach a point in staff week where it feels like it’s time to stop talking about camp and actually do camp.
So, this afternoon, when the campers dropped off by their parents came into Gatehouse Circle, and the bulk of the campers arrived by boat in Four Winds Bay, we were ready. Campers ran up Greenie Hill to meet their counselors, who were thrilled to see them. Old friendships were rekindled, and new ones began to form.
After a little time to settle, we had our first flag lowering of the session. Each cabin introduced themselves, and we learned a few songs. After that, we had a hearty dinner and gathered on the Lodge Steps to learn some more songs. Danielle, our Assistant Director, and I welcomed the campers, celebrated the fact that we have campers from 29 states and 13 countries here this session, in their first summer up through their fifteenth, and sent them back to their cabins and tents to unpack. That’s where they are I write this, getting to know one another, settling in, and setting the tone for the session.
Tomorrow, we’ll have Rotation Day, where we’ll pick the remainder of the campers’ classes (the first half being picked using the forms you filled out in the spring, take care of business like visiting the nurse and having cabin photos made, and make sure everyone has plenty of time to get to know the property and each other. We’ll end the day with Biffer Medic, a fantastic game on the sports field. Monday will kick us off with activities, and camp will be on its way.
As Camp gets going, I’m sure you’re wondering about how you can check in on your camper. The first and best way is the good old fashioned letter. The dying art of letter writing is alive and well in the summer at Four Winds. The tactile nature of it, the delay between sending a letter and receiving a response, and the fact that these letters can be saved as mementos for decades all make letter writing a key part of the camp experience. In this age of instant gratification, delay is a rarity to be valued, and we certainly value it here. Secondly, I’ll be posting here once a week, on Sundays (starting on June 30), and tweeting daily. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates if you don’t want to. Just go to twitter.com/fourwindscamp, and you can read them there. If you’d like the tweets sent to your phone, you can text the phrase ‘follow fourwindscamp’ to the number 40404 in the US, and you’ll get all the updates via text message. Finally, we’re happy to check in your camper and get back to you with an update. Just call us in the office, and the team here will do a check and get back to you.
Finally, a word about homesickness. First of all, we wish they’d change the word. It’s not a virus. It’s an entirely normal feeling that all people feel to some degree or another when they’re away from home. For kids, the feelings are relatively new, and so often more intense than we experience them as adults. Still, it’s an age-appropriate challenge for camp age children. When they can overcome those feelings, it follows that they can overcome other things too. They feel capable and independent. It’s a tremendous gift. If you’re worried that your child might homesick at Camp, I highly recommend that you pick up the book Homesick and Happy, by the psychologist Michael Thompson. It will be an excellent guide for you as you follow your child’s journey at a distance. We’ll call you if your camper is persistently homesick, but if you get a homesick letter, don’t hesitate to call us. Most of the time, we’re already aware of the situation, and the feelings have passed in the time it’s taken the letter to get to you. Occasionally, the camper has not shared his or her homesickness with anyone here, and your calling is the thing that can prompt us to get the camper the help they need.
It’s always exciting to begin another Four Winds summer, and today is no different. These campers are about to embark on an extraordinary adventure, one that will impact them positively for the rest of their lives. It’s an honor to go on that adventure with them.