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Having a ball at Junior Session

Greetings from Hilltop. Midway through Junior Session, the campers are having a fantastic time. Campers are diving into this experience with gusto. As I predicted in my first blog post, these campers are naturally gravitating to the old-fashioned that’s our specialty here at Four Winds, and it’s a marvelous time.

As I write this, the campers are in the middle of Pirate Day. Pirate Day is the Junior Session sized version of Gypsy Day. While it’s shorter (a half day instead of a full one) and a bit simpler, the idea is the same. The campers were surprised at announcements, under the ruse of heading off to afternoon activities, when the Carlyn staff, dressed up as pirates, kidnapped me, our Assistant Director Danielle, and our Head Counselor Mairead. The campers are currently training up on their pirate skills: learning to dodge (cannon)balls, singing sea shanties, completing a piratey obstacle course, and coming up with pirate jokes. Later on this afternoon, hopefully, they’ll convince the Carlyn staff that piracy doesn’t have to involve kidnapping, and Danielle, Mairead and I will be freed. In the meantime, your humble camp director is taking the time to get the midweek blog post done. It’s a great afternoon, and these campers are always game to play.

For those of used to the rhythms of a four-week session, Junior Session goes quickly. We’re already at the halfway point. Tomorrow’s another full day of classes, and then Monday we only have a half day because we have to pack in the afternoon. It flies by. But for the campers themselves, this experience is beyond significant. For many, it’s their first time away from home, from the places and supports that they’re used to. They’re navigating this new place, with new supports, learning its customs, doing things that might make them a little nervous at first (riding a horse, jumping into cold water, performing in front of a group), and they have successes every day. No one has done the research to prove it, but I believe firmly that children that have such opportunities will seize others as they grow up. They’ll be more willing to step up to a new challenge, take a risk, or shoulder a responsibility. Particularly if they continue with one of our four-week sessions or other, bigger independent opportunities as they move through childhood, how much more ready will they be to navigate that first year of college, with its roommates, challenges, and independence?

I think you all know my answer, but for now, I’ll get off my high horse. These campers don’t love camp because Paul thinks it’s good for them. They love it because it’s fun. And fun has been had in droves. In addition to Pirate Day, each cabin has already been to each activity area at least once (they’ll go to each one two or three times total). About half have already had their sail on Carlyn. We’ve had Capture the Chicken (like capture the flag, but with a rubber chicken, and on the sports field instead of all over camp as do in our four-week sessions) and Sports Night for evening activities. Tonight, we’ll have Moonraker (silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point – always a Junior Session highlight).

I look forward to spending these remaining days with this wonderful, playful, enthusiastic kids. They’re just great. Thank you for sending them this week. I’ll post here one last time as the campers are on their way home on Tuesday. Until then, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.