Kids Being Kids

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s a beautiful day on Orcas Island. In the past few days, I’ve seen kids reading a book while sitting on a mossy rock. I’ve seen two brothers tossing a lacrosse ball. I’ve seen kids poking around, looking for creatures in a tidepool. I’ve seen the kind of laughter between friends that indicates intimacy, comfort, presence, and not a care in the world.

We’ve often touted a benefit of camp of kids getting just to be kids, but it seems more important given the place the world is right now. It seems like a bigger gift to them than it used to be. The fact of the matter is that we live in a world of deep divisions, a world where the climate is changing, a world where the rules we all thought were solid are seeming a lot less so. One of the rules that seems a lot less solid is that kids will be given time and space to be with other kids, to do the work of childhood, and to grow. To see them doing it here, as naturally as can be, on a glorious Orcas Island August day is a breath of fresh air. Thank heavens they have this chance.

If that was a little dramatic, I apologize. But, the joys of camp are simple and profound, and when I see them, I think it’s useful to point them out. The kids are not concerned with my attempts at profundity. They’re just having a ball.

It’s been a wonderful week. On Monday, we played Lord of the Rings (four-way, Tolkien-themed, multi-flag capture the flag on the sports field). On Tuesday, we played Game of Life (basically, an elaborate game of tag between the Barn and the Helm Lawn). On Wednesday, we had a Four Winds version of Family Feud. On Thursday, it was Age Group Night. On Friday, we had Garbage Auction (a second session favorite, in which cabins use points earned by picking up garbage to bid on fabulous prizes that will be delivered throughout the rest of the session).

Yesterday, we had Ruth Brown Day. Ruth Brown Day is the new name for an old tradition. We surprise the campers by waking them up early singing songs, and they form a chain winding its way all through Four Winds side, then Westward Ho side, ending on the Sports Field. We play classic games like Duck Duck Goose and In and Out the Windows on the Sports Field. We return to the Lodge, which has been decorated overnight by the Heads, enjoy a special breakfast of sugared cereal (the only time in the session), eggs, and muffins baked by the CTs with fortunes in them. At breakfast, each camper is given a clue which puts them into a group, which goes on an all-day scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt leads to buried treasure (rice krispie squares). After it’s all done, we have an extra long rest hour. In the afternoon, we met and discussed the history of the patteran, the symbol that Ruth Brown chose for Four Winds, which decorates our Zephyr Rings and Bracelets, the courtyard between the Craft Court buildings, and so much else. The Romani people used the patteran to mark trail junctions to show other Roma who followed the safe way to go. We then broke up and wrote note to people who have shown us the way, ending the day with gratitude.

Those familiar with Four Winds traditions will note that with one exception, this tradition is exactly the same as what we used to call Gypsy Day. As most everyone reading this knows, we’re at the end of a two year process of deciding to move on from Four Winds’ use of the word, and to more inclusive language. It’s hard to change the words that people are used to – just ask any sports team that’s been through this process. I’m impressed and pleasantly surprised at how easily and completely we’ve adopted this new language at camp, and it feels good to have our words be more in line with our values.

We’ll have Evening Fire tonight inside the Lodge, where it’s supposed to be. For some of these campers, it will be their first time, and for others, their first since 2019. Again, kids being kids, the world as it should be. Thank you for sharing your children with us. Until next week, I’ll see you on Twitter.