Author: Kim Aycock

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

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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!

 

Woodland’s Climax Forest and Other Delightfully Sensorial Experiences

Posted by on July 31, 2021

Let me tell you about the “Climax Forest.” That’s the name for the untouched virgin forest located that makes up a large portion of the 80 acres of Woodland property. It is on your right as you drive down the Woodland Road. It is quite possible that you would see several whitetail deer scampering across the only artery leading into camp. The Climax Forest has various trails that wind their way through this enchantment of trees and other natural habitat. You may even notice that it is a few degrees cooler once several steps inside this magical place. The canopy trees are so incredibly tall that sunlight has a hard time slicing its way to the forest floor.

The Climax Forest itself is beautiful. It feels like an opening to something special, a secret part of the forest preserved for those lucky enough to stumble upon it. Yet, it is right off the main road into camp with several other access points in various locations. I like to wander in deep enough so that the County D traffic is barely a hum or noticeable at all. There is something about it that’s immediately attractive. You can’t help but think, “Wow, this is really cool.” You may even expect to find fairies and gnomes hustling about as that is precisely who would spend their days in such a mystical place. The fuzzy green moss and leafy ferns are the perfect decor for their forest home. A few days ago, several riding classes took a trail ride in this extraordinary spot. It feels like you are miles away from camp civilization, but actually, it is only a few hundred yards. We are so fortunate!

Visiting the Climax Forest, like so many of the experiences at Woodland, is delightfully sensorial. It quite literally bathes these girls in sensations, rich experiences that stimulate all their senses. The examples at camp are endless— the firm muscle of the horse they’re riding, the soft fur of the bunnies at Farm Zoo, the refreshing chill of the lake water. At camp you hear amazing things too: nighttime forest animals, loons calling, the 50-year-old camp bell, and the occasional intense thunderstorm, for example. And taste! —the homemade lasagne we had earlier this week, a different cookie flavor every few days, and the explosion of cool watermelon in your mouth when you take that first bite. At camp we get to smell the earthiness of the forest all around us, encounter the sharp smoke from a campfire, and breathe in full lungs of the freshest air. And of course, what we see everyday is the beauty of Woodland, this historic camp snuggled up close to our very own Climax Forest.

You have to love this for your kids! When so much of their ordinary lives is spent staring at screens, passively receiving a filtered, curated version of the world— and even more so during the recent pandemic restrictions —they really need all their senses exercised. You might even say that their longterm cognitive and emotional health depend on it! They need rich real world experiences like taking the plunge off the Aqua Tramp or a bite out of a freshly roasted s’more. Camp teaches them that feeling these things is normal and good, that the diversity of sensations offered by the world can be experienced by simply reaching out. Children naturally do this. They’re curious and eager to explore. They instinctively revel in the sensorial character of camp life (no A/C needed!). Unfortunately, the tragedy is that those childhood instincts are being hindered by the all too common allure of technological entertainment.

Thankfully, life at Woodland is a relief from all that. We know how to break the spell of those screens and return to more genuine experiences, more rewarding inter-actions, to a more colorful world. Your girls love it because they need it. And at camp, they enjoy it everyday.

Reference: J Carter, RBC, 7-28-21

“Crunch” Time

Posted by on July 28, 2021

Time is such an interesting phenomenon. Young kids, especially, often have a distorted view of time and can have no concept and/or easily lose track of it (both good things!). They generally know that a few minutes is shorter than a few hours or days, but that is about the extent of it.

You might be familiar with the quote, “the days are long, but the years are short”. I sometimes feel that way about camp; the days are long, but the summer is short! I have often said that a typical camp day is really 3 days. The morning is a day. The afternoon is another day. The evening is a third day. This explains why we are so tired at night. By the time we crawl under the covers, we have really been up for 3 days straight! It is also the reason we sleep so deeply and so well in our cozy cabins.

At our Sunday staff meeting earlier this week, we talked about “Crunch” time (and enjoyed a tasty treat – thank you Nestlé!). We recognize that the number of days at camp are dwindling. And quickly. The end of the summer always goes faster than the beginning. When staff arrived and had an extra week of pre-camp training this year, the 8 (previously 7) weeks of summer stretched out ahead of us. We had all the time in the world. In June there seemed to be an endless supply of the camp days we long for the rest of year. Or so we thought. The roughly 1.5 weeks remaining now seem like nothing. All of a sudden, the surplus of time we thought we had earlier in the summer can be counted on two hands. Now we wonder where did the time go?

This realization brought us to have an interesting conversation. To make the most of the remaining days that are left, what do we need to do MORE and LESS of so that we are truly present and enjoying every single minute of this precious commodity called time? We reflected on the idea of “more” and “less” from an individual perspective and then broadened it to include the staff team. What can WE do more/less of that will impact the camper experience to an even greater degree?

I was impressed with the honesty of the staff in this opportunity to hit “pause” for a moment. While we can’t completely stop the clock from ticking, at the very least we can make it appear to slow down as we ponder and make note.

Things we should do MORE of:

  • Spending time with friends
  • Singing
  • Being in the moment
  • Adding new twists to activities
  • Being flexible (knowing that some things are out of our control)
  • Recognizing the good things
  • Focusing on the positive
  • Appreciating nature
  • Getting rest
  • Being grateful
  • Assuming the best intentions of others

Things we should do LESS of:

  • Spending time on our devices (I know I’m guilty)
  • Complaining (it’s so hot, the water is too cold)
  • Comparing to others (better to compare to earlier versions of ourselves)
  • Drama (unless it is your activity)
  • Eating Dan’s lasagne (well, maybe not…)

I can assure you that since we know what we are up against with our fight against time, we are acutely aware of what needs to happen to make the “Here Comes the Sun in ’21” one for the books! Bucket lists have been made. We don’t want there to be any regrets. Staff are pouring everything they have into making the final sign-up of activities one of progress and skill advancement. Cabin night was Cathy’s ice cream for Hilltop, Aqua Tramp for Tamarack, and a swim party for Sunnyside (just to name a few!).

Today is the much anticipated all-camp Olympics. As I write this, I can hear the Dominican Devils and Maylasian Medusas cheering across the swim area, field and Woodland Road as they root for their own and the opposing team (Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins). The counselors are SO into it – face paint, costumes, energy, and spirit – nothing short of the best kind of pure camp fun. Yes, it is “crunch” time and the days are getting less and less, but there is still MORE summer to do!! A LOT more.

p.s. What can YOU do more/less of in the days before your camper/s return home?