Second Session has Begun!

Greetings from Hilltop. The Second Sessioners are here, and we’ve kicked off a great session. It’s wild to write that at the end of a long travel day. It’s really an impressive thing to see, having all these people coming together from all over the world (heading north and west again, as the song goes, with apologies to our Vancouver families) on this one big day. It’s a logistical feat, and at the end of it, there’s camp.

As I write this, the campers are settling into their cabins and tents, unpacking, getting sorted out, meeting their cabin mates and counselors, and getting to know each other. Soon, it will be time for a good night’s sleep after a long day. Tomorrow, the session can begin in earnest. We’ll have what we call Rotation Day, in which we’ll take care of some business like taking the swim test, visiting the nurse, choosing classes, having cabin photos taken, and changing out uniforms that don’t fit, all while getting to know each other more, and making sure everyone knows all the important details like where the Garden is, where to find a restroom if you’re far from your cabin, and what in heaven’s name a fleugelbob is (it’s this). On Monday, we’ll kick off with our normal schedule of classes, and we’ll be off to the races.

If last summer was your camper’s first at camp, you may be new to this whole picking classes thing, but it’s the way we did it in 2019 and before, and we’re glad to again. Every camper picking their own schedule gives a customization and challenge-by-choice nature to our activities, which we like. It also allows cabin groups to spend time together and apart, which works well, particularly at a longer-term camp like Four Winds. State COVID guidance was a little more flexible this year than last, and did not require a cohort model like last year, so we’re pleased to take advantage of that ability to craft our own plan.

Not that COVID is of zero concern. While the symptoms of COVID are usually quite mild in kids, it can still derail a camp experience, so we want to take precautions. During First Session and staff week, we caught a fair number of cases upon entry, but were fortunate to have no COVID after entry. That was a combination of strategy and luck, but a good strategy allows you to take advantage of luck when it presents itself. For Second Session, families have caught several cases in the days leading up to camp, and those campers are set to arrive late, as soon as they’ve cleared our isolation protocol. Today, at our various testing sites up and down the West Coast, we were fortunate that everyone tested negative. As with First Session, we’ll mask up for the first 5 days, then test everyone again, and if everyone tests negative, we’ll go to masks optional until someone does test positive, hopefully not for the entire session. Again, strategy and luck. We’ve got a good plan if we do get positive cases, but hopefully, we will not.

But, from the campers’ perspective, all of that is background. We’re here at camp, starting an adventure together, and all is as it should be. New friendships are forming, old ones are being rekindled. Counselors are using that unique role of older than a peer, not quite old enough to be a teacher or parent, to establish wonderful mentorship roles. New songs are being learned. Games of pickleball are being played. It’s a great day.

You might well wonder how you can follow along with all this magic. The first and best way is the good old fashioned letter. Letter writing is a wonderful part of camp. If you’re the recipient, you get that tactile proof that someone far away spent time thinking about you. If you’re the writer, you get to take yourself out of your normal routine to focus on that person that you care about that’s far away. In an age of immediate gratification, the inefficiency is the feature. We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Campers don’t have much practice with letter writing, so over the course of the session, we’ll encourage them to write, but you can too, primarily by asking them questions in your letters. Campers often aren’t sure about to write about, so if you ask questions, it can get them going.

There are other ways too. I’ll blog here once a week, on Sundays (though not tomorrow). We’ll post once a day on our Twitter feed (you don’t have to join Twitter if you don’t want to in order to get the updates, just bookmark the link). Finally, if you’d just like us to check in on your camper and call you back, just call our office.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. We know that families make significant sacrifices for their children to have this experience. We know that the adventure and growth that will happen here over the next four weeks will make that sacrifice worthwhile.