Author: Kim Aycock

How Less Adds Up to More at Camp

 

I am writing this just a few days after the biggest gift-exchanging holiday in the world. I had no less than 3 people in 2 hours tell me that it was too much. One person shared that they didn’t even finish opening their gifts that day. They started. Got hungry. Ate breakfast. Opened some more presents. Needed a break. Walked on the beach. Kids were tired. Took naps. Went back at it. By the end of the day, they still had unwrapping to do. In fact, I don’t think they ever reached completion!

Another person offered that they moved the day they actually celebrated the holiday so that it was less hustle and bustle of various family members trying to make the rounds. A third person told me that his Mom brought way too much stuff. It was over the top. His kids didn’t even know what to do with it all. It was overwhelming. I think this is all well intentioned, and like many things when there is too much, appreciation goes out the window. It gets lost or even forgotten in all the excess.

When I look back at my own childhood, I remember one particular Christmas when I scored the trifecta. I got the Barbie camper, tent, and airplane. I thought I had won the lottery! The interesting thing, though, is that my younger sister also received the same three popular Mattel items. It never really occurred to me until recently that buying duplicate sets was most likely a huge sacrifice for my parents. I wonder why they didn’t just get them for us to share? Maybe because they knew I was a bit selfish as the older sister. Having 2 sets of identical Barbie accessories would eliminate World War III from breaking out in our basement playroom. 

As an adult, I can appreciate the idea of less is more. In fact, I use that principle when building slides for a PowerPoint presentation. Less words, more images. It can be found in other situations as well. Fewer unhealthy foods, more energy. Less time scrolling gives more opportunities to read, nap, or walk the dogs. A decrease in frivolous spending is more money in the bank.

I also see how it plays out at camp each and every summer. For the 80 campers and 35 staff who make their way to County D Road come June, less truly adds up to more:

  • We have less distractions and more time to spend enjoying the present moment. 
  • There is an absence of technology which allows for real face-time conversations and interactions. 
  • We are indoors for a minimal amount of time (eating and sleeping) and that opens up the opportunity to be immersed in nature. 
  • We can only bring so much “stuff” in our trunks and duffles; therefore, we make do with what we have (and don’t waste time deciding what to wear!). 
  • We live in rustic, yet homey accommodations, where the people we are with (and an occasional spider or two) are way more important than the decor on the walls or things we own.
  • The drama closet with its vintage donations and an art room stocked with basic supplies gives us license to be creative and innovative with costumes and props for themed events. 
  • Less instantaneous (mail, for one!) means learning to delay gratification. 
  • Being conscientious of unkind words and actions reminds us to be more inclusive. 
  • The absence of fast food is replaced with more sit-down meals and sharing about your day with your cabin family.
  • Being away from caregivers and friends encourages self-sufficiency and independence.  

The list goes on and on. At camp we trade over the top for simple. Even though I am not in the Northwoods at the moment, today was a good reminder of that. Simple is good. It grounds you. We return home from camp being grateful for the little things. 

I wonder what lesson I would have learned sooner had my parents made the decision for me and my sister to share Barbie’s camper, tent, and airplane? Maybe we would have avoided having tape down the middle of our shared room at one point. Maybe I would have been more appreciative for what I did have. Maybe I would have understood at an earlier age that less is more.

Summer Memories

by Maya S.

Winding roads lined with trees,
A pure source of happiness that surrounds me as I drive to my true home.
The home I can only be at for six weeks a year,
For my summer.

Six weeks is not enough time,
I bring back memories of laughter, tears, serotonin to my home in the real world,
But it is not the same.
Reminders of my perfect summer constantly fill the empty space around me.
Sunsets filled with vibrant colors paint a picture in my mind that I have seen before walking to my cabin from the lake each night.

A deck of cards brings back moments of trying to speak Spanish as my friends from Mexico teach me their favorite card games.
Winter fills my senses with the sentimental smell of pine needles that remind me of the nature I miss being surrounded by.
The sound of water rippling floods my mind with times spent sailing through the wind.

But at some point the sails ended up in irons, I am no longer able to sail.
North woods air has a somber chill all of a sudden,
Thunder crashes and I must leave the sailboat,
I don’t want to but I have to.

I know I must leave my home now.

I pack my photos to remember this happiness,
Hug my friends for a long time,
Tears mask almost everyone around me at this moment.
The seven, eight, nine year olds smiling at their parents,
Confused why everyone else is crying.
When they are older they will understand.

The mental pictures of my friends’ faces as we say goodbye for another year burned in my memory.
Faces I will tell story after story about to family, friends, and anyone who will listen.
Pictures I refuse to forget,
Thinking about them whenever my mind wanders.

So I go back to the real world,
With six weeks of memories to think about when I am nostalgic, hurting, content, or tired.
The long drive back on winding roads lined with trees,

No longer a source of happiness,
Now overwhelming grief as I travel farther and farther away from my home.

On a cold October night,
I am tired but can’t fall asleep.
The decision to look through the photo album in my mind has already been made.
I am no longer in need of sleep,
Seeing the smiling faces, laughing fits, and moments of joy I remember all too well.
Holding on to these memories for the rest of my life,
Memories I will never let go.

 

Is Campsick a Thing?

Dear JoAnne, 

Ever since my daughter returned home from camp, she refuses to wear anything that isn’t Woodland blue or tie-dyed and Crocs with an assortment of Jibbitz . All she talks about is the fun she had, stories about her cabin mates, and how many days there are until camp next summer.  She claims that she isn’t sure what to do next without the bell ringing throughout the day to mark time. She won’t stop singing camp songs or looking at the online photos on the Woodland website and Instagram.  She even makes her bed every morning and asks if she can “hop” during dinner.  She insists that I ask you for Dan’s lasagna recipe and is now putting ketchup on potato chips.  Help!  Can you please explain to me what is going on with my daughter?

 A Concerned Parent

sick-teddy-bear.jpg

Dear Woodland Parent,

Thanks for your letter; I can assure you that what your daughter is experiencing right now sounds like a typical case of  “campsickness.” Not to worry…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  I receive calls and emails from parents every year at this time wondering what is happening to their camper(s). Trust me, campsickness is not necessarily a bad thing; it just means that your daughter had an AMAZING summer and is sad to leave her camp friends. It is normal to miss the nonstop activity and fun that camp offers at every turn. Coming home to an empty room can be a bit of a shock after the excitement of constant interaction with a community of girls.

I have every confidence that she will adjust to being at home again; it just takes a little time. You can let her know that we will be corresponding with her (and you!) over the course of the winter via mail, email, and various social media. There are all kinds of ways she can stay connected to our camp family, and before you know it, we will be headed to Woodland (where it’s cool to be you in ’22) for another fantastic summer!

Woodland Love,

JoAnne

Modern Camper: Some Things Never Change

Posted by on August 5, 2021

Here we are! Today is the first performance of the annual CoEd Show. One of the most anticipated days of the entire summer. The CIT’s will move up the ladder of awesomeness in the eyes of the campers. Tomorrow every song and line will be replayed a hundred times over. This is THE story of the summer. Every cabin is mentioned in the script and every camper and staff member will be included in the slide show finale. Inside jokes are revealed. The unique personality of each cabin group is celebrated. We relive the memories of 2021 from beginning to end.  We laugh. We smile. We cry. We cherish. Only 2 more full days of camp to go.

This is the first summer we have had a title and a subtitle as the CoEd Show theme. It seems appropriate considering this has been a season just like the theme suggests. Modern Camper: Some Things Never Change. Operating in the midst of a pandemic, we have been forced to let modern times infiltrate into our camp community. We followed guidance to preserve the health of our two camps. We kept to cabin pods at the beginning. We altered the program schedule. We ate outside. We tested campers and staff. And more.

This will be the first CoEd Show that will be held at Camp Woodland (and outside). The CIT’s have taken the changes in stride because the alternative would be no show at all. As these long term veteran campers always do, they pour even more heart and soul into putting together an amazing performance. They embrace the challenge. They dig deep. They are resilient. They have grit. The show must go on!

The rest of the Woodland community is also doing their part to keep the element of surprise in tact. For cabin night, counselors kept their groups away from the Rec Hall where the CIT’s were rehearsing, and when it came time for evening snack, they came to the lodge and brought dance music to help drown out the sounds of the singing that was occurring on the other side of the volleyball court. Tuesday night had everyone down at the beach and to alert the CIT’s of their return “upstairs”, they paused at the top and sang a very loud rendition of “The Ship Titantic”. This really speaks to the community we have here. We look out for each other’s needs. All for one and one for all.

We have other logistics to puzzle out before we are ready for the two shows, but we are working together to figure out the best solutions for all involved. The kitchen crews at both camps will be part of the answer as we may need to eat early so that we can start the show ahead of the normal time. Daylight is now shorter than at the beginning of the summer, so we need to bump up curtain time to utilize the natural lighting we have available. We even had to order the shirts ahead of our usual schedule to ensure they were delivered on time.

We talked about the “elephant in the room” before the start of the summer. Many campers and staff wondered whether or not camp would be the “same” as in previous summers. And to be quite honest, the camp leadership had the very same question. Yes, there were some things we had to do differently this summer. And, for the vast majority of the season, there were things that were exactly the same as they had been in years past. The “core” of camp did not change as a result of the world within which we now live.

There are a lot of confident and happy kids at Woodland. They can do things they couldn’t do before. They know what genuine FaceTime is again. They know how to connect with others and build relationships without the need for a screen. They have been active from spending the majority of their days in the outdoors. They remember what it is like to navigate conflict and come out on the other side. They appreciate their own and each other’s strengths and celebrate those things that make us unique.

The days are long and the summer is short. How we got to the end so quickly, none of us quite know for sure. Some things never change…

 

It’s An Every Day, Camp Woodland Thing

Posted by on August 3, 2021

We have a guest blogger this week because I figured it might be nice to hear from someone other than me for a change. You can’t beat a “straight from the pen of a camper” perspective!

Written by Maya S, Driftwood cabin 2021

Friday (July 30th) during evening assembly, I could not stop smiling. My cabin spends a lot of time talking about our days at dinner, and I had one of the best days ever. I loved hearing my friends talk about their good days because it made me happy for them. Because of this, dinner is definitely my favorite meal at camp. After assembly, we walked to our table in the back of the lodge and sang grace before we all dove into conversation.

I asked everyone at my table how their day was, and everyone seemed to have a a really fun day too. Maybe the Northwoods air was magic today. After everyone had shared, one of my cabin mates turned to me and said, “How was your day?” I honestly didn’t know where to start at first, but I decided just to go in the order of my activities.

“Well, actually, today was my favorite one so far!” I began. “During 1st period we sailed in a race for the first time, and it was so much fun! I learned a ton from the skipper and CIT in my boat. Then during tennis I worked very hard and checked off 3 more items on my advanced beginner sheet. This meant I was now more than halfway done,” I paused and had a huge smile. “In third hour, I shot a 40 and 41 kneeling, which meant I only needed one more qualifier until I was standing! And then during rest hour, I finally wrote home to my Mom for the first time in a week. She was definitely happy to hear from me, I assume.”

On to the afternoon…

“After rest hour, I had drama, where they announced we were having a drama exchange with TP. I was very excited because the TP Players are very funny and nice. During Rec Swim I talked with some of my closest friends from other cabins. It was a lot of fun to talk with them and catch up because I had not sat down and talked with them in a very long time. Lastly, my 6th hour riflery class was the highlight of my day! I shot my final 40 and kneeled for the last time. Thankfully! (That position is so uncomfortable!) And then, I shot a 31 standing for the first time! But I also loved this part of my day where I got to hear about all of your days.”

My cabin all exchanged big smiles and continued with conversations of many topics: horses, Phineas, and Ferb, Harry Potter, etc. I’m very lucky to say the conversations, laughs, and smiles we share is an everyday, Camp Woodland thing. Even though passing a level or trying something new can make your day better, the best part about camp is the shared moments with friends. They make every day AMAZING!

It is now pay-off time for all of the hard work the girls have put in during the first five weeks.  This last week is really FUN because the girls have been doing their activities daily for over a month now, and they can see the results of the skill progression that occurs when you work at something for an extended period of time.  That feeling of SUCCESS is what makes camp EXTRA SPECIAL in the days we have left.  Campers are fully aware of the short amount of time that remains for this summer, and they want to make the most of EVERY MINUTE they have together! Can’t say I blame them…

Thank you, Maya!