Camp Woodland Blog

Anything But Ordinary

Posted by on July 26, 2022

When you hear the morning bell at Woodland, you can picture parts of your day right away. You know what activities you’re going to take, you know at what times you’ll eat, and you’ll pull yourself awake knowing that rest hour is coming in the middle part of the day. You’ll probably have a suspicion that you’ll laugh a lot during the day, that someone will do something kind for you, that you’ll go to sleep at night with a different camp song stuck in your head.

But for all that you do know as you start thinking about today, there’s also a rush of excitement realizing there’s so much you do not know about the day, and it’s rife with possibility. There is a novelty and liveliness about each day that makes getting up that much easier, as you anticipate all of the paths the day might take.

You go to your first activity and stretch on the gymnastics mats. Today is one of the final rehearsals for tomorrow’s end-of-session shows, and you find that you are excited and nervous at the same time. As you take off your shoes and socks, you notice the pile of multi-colored Crocs. You realize that certain camp traditions (like wearing Crocs) is something that connects you to the other campers. You love collecting and trading Jibbitz (shoe decorations) with your friends.

You step back and think about how friendships are born here–some of the best friends of your life may not have been made because they were your bunkmate, but just as a happy accident of being in the same activity or sitting next to each other at movie night. Making friends is easier here, maybe because you’re away from your phone and you’re engaged in more conversations, maybe because people are just a little gentler here, softer, wanting to be your friend, too, and maybe this will help you realize that you can make friends easier away from camp as well.

As you transition to another activity and see some of your cabin mates on the path down to the beach, the news hits your ears that your cabin got a “30” on inspection. Yes! Everyone is working together to do cabin chores after breakfast in the hopes of winning the coveted “Clean Freaks” award for the week. This could mean  a pizza party, trip to Cathy’s or a special night of tubing on Sand Lake!

You go to lunch and after, your counselors bring back the mail. You hop on your bunk and spend several minutes basking in the delight of hearing news from home. You know you are missed and yet your family and friends are always eager to hear the latest update from camp. You quickly grab a piece of paper or BunkNote to write a response to the questions of how things are going. How do you accurately describe the fun you had on your cabin’s overnight across the lake, the excitement of finally getting a bull’s eye at the archery range, the feeling of accomplishment when you cantered for the first time, the pure joy of hanging out with your friends during Rec Swim or how you laughed so hard at lunch that water came out of your nose?! You wonder if the people on the other end of your letter will think it is weird that you now LOVE eating American cheese and carrots sticks as a new snack combo thanks to Counselor Jackie!

The bell rings again to send you off to your afternoon activities; today the periods are shortened so that everyone can get ready for Woodland’s annual birthday celebration. As dinner approaches, you are enthralled by the rush of energy that the assembly area is filled with tonight. Cabins and friends are eager to record this moment with as many photos as possible so that the memories are at the ready to pull out at any given moment in the upcoming year.

You are delighted when you see all of the decorations and the beautiful cake the kitchen staff prepared specially for tonight’s party as you enter the lodge. You enjoy chicken patties and tater tots followed by cake and ice cream and the recognition of each person’s time at Woodland. There is applause and cheers as campers and staff stand for their 1st year, 4th year or 7th year. You wait on the edge of your seat as those who are marking 5 or 10 years are waiting their turn to receive a much anticipated Woodland pendant or blanket. A poem is read that speaks to the journey each person has taken and the growth that has occurred during their time at camp. You marvel that there are staff who have been at camp for 20+ years and think how fortunate they must be to have a way that brings them back to camp year after year.

The day ends with birthday games and you watching the splendor of a dramatic sunset lighting up the sky, surrounded by the deep blues of clouds, the orange and pink shining above the tallest of pine trees. And you think about how well-lived this day was, and know that none of your others will be just like it. Maybe it was a normal day at camp for you–a routine you anticipated, a predictable structure. And yet when you look back on it, it was special. Today brought you closer to friends, it made you feel more connected to the Woodland community, there were delights you never could have anticipated and wouldn’t trade for anything. Because at Woodland, you realize, there simply aren’t ordinary days.

adapted from RBC blog, July 2022