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Junior Session, just as it should be

Greetings from Hilltop. Here we are at the midway point of Junior Session. For those of us used to four-week sessions, Junior Session seems to fly by quickly indeed. For our Junior Session campers, everything is exactly as it should be.

As I write this, the campers are participating in Pirate Day. Pirate Day is our Junior Session sized version of Gypsy Day. Gypsy Day, held on a secret day at some point during each of our four-week sessions, is an all-day scavenger hunt. For Junior Session, we pare it down the essentials and do it in half a day. After lunch, we met as usual on the steps to sing, have announcements, and go off to activities. But, while we were taking roll call, two pirates (our Carlyn staff) kidnapped me, our Assistant Director Danielle, and our Head Counselor Bridget. The campers are currently training as pirates so that they can rescue us later on.

Gypsy Day is a great deal more elaborate, but it’s fantastic to see these Junior Session campers take to the imagination of it all. As we were being kidnapped, campers were standing up, yelling at the kidnappers, fully engaged in the ruse. It’s so much fun.

I mentioned earlier that Pirate Day is Gypsy Day broken down to its essentials. You can say the same of Junior Session compared to full sessions. When you break down what we do at Four Winds, we take kids out of their normal environment, give them different support adults than they’re used to, facilitate intentional group dynamics, have fun, and challenge kids in an age-appropriate way. While the results are a lot different with younger kids and a shorter session, all the ingredients are the same. Having spent some time with these campers for the last few days, I know we’re well on our way to our goal, giving them a positive, successful early experience away from home.

As I wrote earlier, to adult eyes, Junior Session goes very quickly. It’s already the halfway point. On Wednesday, we just got settled. On Thursday, we rotated through stations in the morning, seeing the nurse, taking the swim test and cabin photos, and learning a few camp songs. We jumped right into activities in the afternoon. For evening activity, we played Capture the Chicken (capture the flag, but with a rubber chicken as is Four Winds tradition) on the sports field – saving the bigger challenge of all-camp Capture the Chicken for the four-week session. Yesterday, we had a full day of classes, and Sports Night for evening activity. Today, we had classes in the morning, Pirate Day in the afternoon, and we’ll do silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point for evening activity. Tomorrow, we’ll have another full day of classes, and for evening activity, we’ll make boats out of driftwood, on which we’ll float candles after our Evening Fire Monday night. Plus, we’ll have some s’mores. Monday, we’ll have classes in the morning, pack in the afternoon, and share an Evening Fire, the only way to end a Four Winds session. Tuesday, as you know, we’ll send them home to you.

As I said, it goes quickly. But the experience is still profound for these kids. They certainly won’t articulate it this way, but the experience of successfully being away from home, and having fun while they’re at it, will affect these kids throughout their lives. What happens in the future is beyond our control, but regardless, this experience will serve these kids well.

Thank you for sharing them with us this week. We’re having a ball. I’ll post again here when the campers are on their way on Tuesday. Until then, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.