Greetings from Hilltop. We’re right in the middle of Junior Session, and these campers are having a ball. They’re eating up everything that camp has to offer. Kids are so scheduled today and so used to digital inputs that it always gives me a bit of relief that if you take two 8-year-old boys, take away their devices, and put them in the woods, they’re as likely as not to pick up some sticks and start playing swords, just as they have for thousands of years. (Thankfully, there’s a counselor nearby to make sure that doesn’t get out of hand, but you get my point.) These campers are just out here playing, and it’s a joy to see.

If you’ve been following along on Twitter or Threads, you know about the events of Junior Session so far. (If not, check out either platform for updates every day this session.) This morning, we had a regular morning of classes. During Junior Session, groups of two or three cabins travel together throughout the day, visiting each of our five activity areas (Land Sports, the Dock, the Craft Courts, the Barn, and the Garden) two or three times over the course of the week, plus getting a half day sail on Carlyn, our 61′ yawl. Today was different after lunch, though. We gathered on the stairs as usual after rest hour for songs, announcements, and to go to activities, but while announcements were being made, Jeff (our head counselor) and I were kidnapped by pirates! (Set aside your disbelief that my kidnappers would give me access to a computer to write a blog post for a minute.) As I write this, the campers are all over the camp receiving pirate training. They’re making eye patches and getting tattoos in the Craft Courts, dodging cannonballs at Landsports, learning pirate jokes and songs at the Lodge, walking the plank at the Dock, and playing camouflage and curing scurvy (by eating oranges) in the Garden. Hopefully, if all goes well, later this afternoon, they’ll be able to tell pirate jokes funny enough to soften the hearts of our captors, and the day will be saved.

It all sounds very silly (and it is), but imagination-based play is so good for these campers. It exercises their minds in ways that digitally delivered content cannot. They learn, through the play, to interact positively with others. They’re exercising their bodies in healthy ways. And, despite all the good they’re getting from this, it’s not like forcing them to eat their vegetables – they’re having a great time. It’s just fantastic.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this week. We’re having a fantastic time with them. Sunday will be here before we know it, and we look forward to sending them home to you full of songs and stories and proud of what they’ve accomplished.