Greetings from Hilltop. Junior Session has begun, and we couldn’t be more excited. There’s no better way to end a fantastic summer at Four Winds than to give these little guys a great first experience away from home.
We had a bit of rain today, but it stopped just as our boat loaded with campers pulled into Four Winds Bay, and there’s none forecast for the rest of the week. Perfect. It’ll knock the dust down and hopefully keep our fire danger moderate, but not affect the campers’ activities.
This is going to be a fantastic week. During our four-week sessions, not to be grandiose about it, our goal is magic. That’s the word that Four Winds alums use most often when describing their experience. It’s not magic, of course, but it’s so special that it feels that way. Over four weeks, there’s a depth of community and friendship that builds that is intense, unique, and well, magical.
There are many ingredients to that, but one of the most important is kids having an independent experience away from home. That’s what we get to put all our energy into this week – we want them to have a safe, fun, successful first (or second) experience away from home. Having had that experience, they’ll be more ready for bigger experiences later on in childhood and adolescence.
There’s a great psychologist named Michael Thompson. He’s written several books, but my favorite is Homesick & Happy. If you’re feeling some separation anxiety yourself this week, it can be a great way to spend the week, learning more about what your child is going through and also learning more about the magic of long term camp. In case, Dr. Thompson gives a lot of talks at schools and so forth, and he’s fond of asking a group of adults to pause, close their eyes, and think of their sweetest childhood memory. Maybe I’ll be so bold as to ask you to do the same. After a few seconds, he asks them to raise their hands if, in that sweetest childhood memory, their parents were present. Consistently, only a handful of the adults raise their hands.
That’s a tough pill for lots of parents to swallow. We both love our kids and like them. We love creating memories with them. But I’ll ask you to think of your own first independent experiences when you were a child or adolescent. Think of the intoxication at realizing that you were capable of navigating the world without the help of your parents. These campers get their first, age-appropriate, taste of that independence this week. I’m thrilled for them, and I hope you are too.
You may be wondering how to follow along with your campers’ experience. We’re big on writing letters at Four Winds, though I admit the length of Junior Session, as well as the age of the campers, makes it a little harder. Still, I’d encourage you to write letters to your camper, even if what you get back from them may be scant. We will have them all write a postcard at dinner tonight so that you will get something directly from your child. Aside from that, we’ll post daily on Twitter during Junior Session. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates, you can just go to the website, or text the phrase ‘follow fourwindscamp’ to the number 40404, and you’ll get the updates by text message. I will blog here on Saturday and after the campers leave on Tuesday. Finally, if you need an update, feel free to our call our office. One of our staff will check in on your camper and get back to you.
Thank you for sharing your children with us this week. For our staff, this is the perfect way to end a Four Winds summer, helping these campers to play, sing, use their imaginations, and get a taste of what Four Winds is all about. For the campers, it’s their first step on a magical road. Until Saturday, be sure to follow our updates on Twitter.