Why Should You Hire A Prior Camp Counselor?

Looking for an outstanding addition to your full time staff? Reach out to us for more details - We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think our prior counselors would be outstanding members on your team.Looking for an outstanding addition to your full time staff? Reach out to us for more details - We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think our prior counselors would be outstanding members on your team.

“Being a camp counselor isn’t a real job,” “You don’t get any benefits with seasonal employment,” “What skills would you even learn when you spend all day running around and playing?” These are just a few misconceptions that you may have heard about working as a camp counselor, but luckily, we know from experience that none of them are true. Being a counselor at summer camp is a demanding job, but it’s one that comes with real benefits and opportunities for growth. As this summer is winding down, several of our older staff members who have graduated college are looking for a full-time job after school, meaning that unfortunately for us, they aren’t planning on returning to work at camp. That means good news for you as employers though: these incredible staff members will now be available to enhance the job market with their array of skills!

1) Patience and Responsibility

So what does being a camp counselor really teach you? To start, you have to be extremely patient, positive, and motivated to make it through a long summer, all while being as fresh and enthusiastic on the first day as you are on the very last. There are few jobs with schedules as demanding as summer camp, but our counselors handle their responsibilities and time commitments with diligence and ease. In a normal desk job, you’ll clock in at 9am and head home at 5pm, with plenty of time to relax in the evening and sleep in your own bed. At camp, you’re on the job 24 hours a day, and you have to be able to respond to campers’ needs at 3pm and at 3am with equal attention. Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and current paddling counselor at Falling Creek, reflected on how patience was the biggest thing he learned while being a counselor: “Every extra minute that I invested into the whole experience benefitted myself and the people around me. Of course, there is also the whole theme around brotherhood and friendships that I have gained at Falling Creek, but the patience I gained through this job tops all else.”

Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and now paddling counselor, instructing a group of boys on the dock.Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and now paddling counselor, instructing a group of boys on the dock.

Not only are the hours demanding, but the responsibility our counselors are given is huge. Our staff must model incredible responsibility, dedication, integrity, accountability, and adaptability in order to care for the most important members of our camp community: the campers. Accepting responsibility for other people’s children is a huge commitment. In their role at camp, counselors gain experience in caring, mentoring, coaching, and teaching. Few other jobs can offer the same impact or level of meaningfulness. During the summer, our counselors have the opportunity to be a mentor, a role model, and a big brother or sister. Campers often look up to their counselors and build strong mentor relationships over the years at camp. The bonds created at camp are lifelong, and the positive impact that counselors have can’t be overstated.

Can you match the enthusiasm our counselors bring to a day at camp?Can you match the enthusiasm our counselors bring to a day at camp?

2) Communication and Collaboration

While away from the distractions of technology, counselors and campers are able to grow in a communal environment, boosting their teamwork skills. Because camp is technology-free, counselors are “unplugged,” and have to practice communicating face-to-face with their co-workers and employers. These uniquely human skills are necessary for today’s job market, which requires the ability to connect and collaborate. These life skills can’t be learned from a textbook or through standardized test prep in schools. However, this is why supplemental experiences, such as camp, have so much value. The camp experience provides staff with these necessary life skills, giving them that extra edge for the competitive job market, and for life in general.

Working at camp provides a new depth of knowledge beyond the classroom, educating through face-to-face interaction in a community, and hands-on experience in an activity.
One of our counselors attributes his communication skills to his past camp experience, sharing that while at camp, “one really has to adapt their language in social interactions and speak up at the right time. As a counselor, you also gain so much experience working as a team.” Counselors often say that “real life skills” like these are invaluable to as they move on in future careers, which set them apart in the competitive job market.

Brian Everette served in the military before attending Appalachian State University, and was completing his internship at Falling Creek this summer as a climbing instructor.Brian Everette served in the military before attending Appalachian State University, and was completing his internship at Falling Creek this summer as a climbing instructor.

3) Critical Thinking/Innovation

How do you get a whole cabin of 8 year olds to shower and get ready for bed? How do you help a young boy away from home for the first time tackle homesickness? What do you do to problem solve when a trip doesn’t go as planned? These are just some of the questions that counselors have to answer during the summer, coming up with innovative solutions and getting used to thinking on their feet. Caring for campers takes more than just clocking in and following a task list. Our staff members consistently innovate to come up with more efficient ways to manage daily routines with campers, create more effective methods of teaching in their activities, and adapt their outdoor trip itineraries as plans or weather change.

Counselors also have to be innovative when coming up with creative ways to market their activity. Since there are 28 different activities at camp, each one competes for the attention of our campers. During special-signups on Sundays, counselors have the chance to offer programs or activities outside of the “norm.” That gives them the opportunity to get creative not only within the activity, but also with the announcement, which draws campers to your activity!

Safety is our highest priority, so we spend all year hiring and training exceptional young men and women. Safety is our highest priority, so we spend all year hiring and training exceptional young men and women.

4) Personal/Professional Development

In May, we host a ten day Staff Development and Camp Orientation. In addition, some staff members must arrive two to three weeks prior to orientation to attend certification clinics for their areas of expertise at camp. This includes Wilderness First Responder training for our Outdoor Trip staff, Certified Horsemanship Association training for our barn staff, and lifeguard training for any staff members working in sailing or on the swim docks. During the summer, we continue to offer growth opportunities for our staff,as well as, bible studies, workout sessions and in-service training.

Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director, is the kind of knowledgeable person you want to have on all your outdoor trips. Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director, is the kind of knowledgeable person you want to have on all your outdoor trips.

Counselors also have the opportunity to gain peer leadership skills in a Tribal Leader or Activity Leader position. As a Tribal Leader, counselors are expected to be leaders and role models among others their own age, gaining peer leadership skills as they manage their own tribe. Activity Leaders plan the curriculum for their individual activities, coordinate working as a team to turn in the weekly paperwork tracking progressions and evaluations, as well as manage the day to day lessons and fellow staff in their activities. The opportunity to be an activity leader or trip leader offers further experience with planning, organization, communication, risk management, and proactive thinking to ensure that your activity is taught effectively or your trip goes smoothly. These leadership opportunities ensure a certain level of expertise in the activity itself, but also allow staff to excel in the areas of communication, teamwork, and “people skills” that are necessary in today’s world.

Good clean fun at camp!Good clean fun at camp!

5) More Than Just a Summer Job

Being a camp counselor is more than just a “summer job” before your “real job.” Being on staff at camp is a real job with real opportunities and benefits. Working as a counselor is an important educational experience that teaches skills for the 21st century through leadership, communication, responsibility, and teamwork. Few other jobs or internships can give you the same opportunities for growth, or the same leadership experience.

Our counselors fill the roles of instructor, mentor, friend, caretaker, and big brother/sister. It's a lot of hats to wear, but they seem to fill all the roles with ease.Our counselors fill the roles of instructor, mentor, friend, caretaker, and big brother/sister. It's a lot of hats to wear, but they seem to fill all the roles with ease.

It may seem like all fun and games, but the lessons learned during a summer of work at camp are invaluable, especially as the new job market demands more human skills in an increasingly technological society. Where else can you get the hands-on experience of teaching, coaching, and caring for children, the excitement of leading trips, the communication skills from planning activities, or the peer leadership experience from working with fellow staff? Parents notice the difference in their sons and daughters as they return from working over the summer, and we are always happy when they reach out with comments about the positive impact from the camp experience.

If you’re an employer interested in hiring one of our accomplished counselors, we encourage you to visit the staff section of our website to learn more about each of our staff members and contact our office for more details on which of our counselors are looking for full-time jobs after the summer. We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think these young men and women would be outstanding members on your team.

-Annie Pharr

With a counselor group full of people this impressive, all that's left to do is With a counselor group full of people this impressive, all that's left to do is "rock on"!
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What a Day!

It's been a great final day!It's been a great final day!

This morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise, painting the sky in rosy pink hues and highlighting the fog collecting in the valley below. Boys headed down to breakfast, half of them returning from their Cabin Overnights. They were sleepy-eyed and smiling, with their clothes smelling a little like campfire and their cheeks still a little sticky from smores, all signs of a fun evening of camping. As we gathered on the benches at Morning Watch today, we reflected on this being the last full day of camp, not only for this Junior Camp session, but for the whole summer. It’s been a summer full of fun, growth, adventure, and excitement, and this past week was no different!

All smiles at the docks!All smiles at the docks!

This morning was a favorite breakfast of egg and cheese burritos, oatmeal, fruit, and yogurt. We sat on the porch for the final Morning Assembly of the summer, and HarryO shared the weather report with us as usual, shouting “It’s sunny!!” at the top of his lungs. The Falling Creek band led us in singing “Leroy Brown,” and “Rocky Top” which really set the happy mood for the final day. The excitement levels were certainly high as we headed into our last day of activities.

Even though it has hardly been a week at Junior Camp, we have packed a ton of fun and excitement into each day. Since boys are able to sample each activity that camp has to offer, they get to experience a huge variety of fun. There are sports on the field like flag football and soccer, as well as on the courts with basketball. Boys can hang out with our animals, including feeding the chickens at the F.A.R.M., and riding horses at the barn. The waterfront is always a hit, especially the blob, where boys have fun bouncing each other into the water. Fishing is also a hit, both during activities and at Free Time. They’ve also been enjoying traditional outdoor activities like canoeing on the lower lake and climbing on the wall.

Reaching the top!Reaching the top!
Feeding our fine feathered friends!Feeding our fine feathered friends!

Even though we have plenty of sports to choose from, we also have lots of arts and crafts for boys to show their more creative side. In Art, they were using oil pastels to create original patterns and work on mixing colors to form unique designs. In woodworking, they were building portable ping pong tables to play with. At blacksmithing, older boys were hammering out arrowheads on the anvil. It would be hard to pick a favorite with all of these choices!

Last one in's a rotten egg!Last one in's a rotten egg!

At lunch we had chicken nuggets and potato wedges with fruit, soup, and salad. As we washed our hands to go inside, several of the boys I saw has charcoal smudged on their faces like warpaint. They had been building forts at OSC, and running around outside in the woods, playing hard and just having fun being boys.

Fortbuilding- a quintessential summer activity!Fortbuilding- a quintessential summer activity!

The afternoon was filled with our last fun activity periods of the week, and after working up an appetite, we enjoyed homemade baked ziti, mixed vegetables, warm dinner rolls, and a full salad bar After dinner, the boys enjoyed a chance to spend some time with their cabin groups sharing stories with each other about their favorite adventures and times they had while at camp. As the boys and staff walk quietly to the final campfire for the session, they have been told earlier to bring with them a rock that they found tonight with their cabin to drop on the right just before the bridge leading to the Campfire Area. Many others, before and after them, have added or will add rocks to this growing old style uneven rock wall for their final campfire of each camp session. Even dads and sons will each place a rock at their final campfire during their weekend at camp. This is our Ebenezer wall. An Ebenezer serves as a reminder of God’s love, God’s real presence, and God’s assistance. Every Ebenezer rock serves as a reminder for each camper and staff member of the contributions, memories, and experiences they have had at Falling Creek Camp.This meandering stone wall reminds us, too, of the spirits of all those who have been part of the Falling Creek Camp community – past and present.

To close out another great session, we ended the evening with Campfire. The theme of tonight’s campfire was “friendship,” and we reflected back on how this past week has been filled with brotherhood and appreciation for this Falling Creek Community. We began Campfire as always with Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” We sang songs such as “lean on me”, Country Roads”, and our FCC version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” We also enjoyed a skit about a pig, dinosaur, beaver, rooster, and giraffe who joined together using all of their individual talents to build a house together. After singing Taps, boys silently returned to their cabins to share one last Evening Embers together and reflect on a great week at camp. We are so thankful for the individual light that each of these boys brought to this session, and are grateful that you chose to share your sons with us. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning as you pick up your boys, and we can’t wait to tell you all about the fun we had.

-Annie Pharr

Jumping into the final full day of the session!Jumping into the final full day of the session!
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What Summer Camp Teaches You, From A to Z

Today’s blog was inspired by our newest video, “The ABC’s of FCC” which celebrates some of our favorite things at Falling Creek (watch it below!). This blog celebrates the many lessons that a camp experience can teach you! The benefits of going to camp are extensive, but it’s hard to describe all of the things you learn. If you went to camp as a child, you already know what a positive impact camp can have in one’s life. However, if you’re a first-time camp parent or you never went to camp on your own, you may not realize just how many things camp can teach. From A to Z, here are some of the things that boys have been developing while at camp, not only this week at Junior Camp, but in all of our sessions this summer.

A: being Active – at camp, boys are physically active and living healthy lifestyles each day. We run around in activities, hike to overnights, and play games on the field. Instead of sitting at the TV or in a desk at school, boys enjoy hands-on learning and have fun moving throughout the day.

B: be your Best – boys are encouraged to be their best selves at camp, and everyone strives to live by the Falling Creek Code.

C: Confidence – there is nothing like the confidence one can build after trying a new activity and succeeding, or simply realizing you can be on your own away from home for the first time.

D: Determination – boys show plenty of determination and dedication when persevering in their progressions.

Perseverance to the top of the wall!Perseverance to the top of the wall!

E: Environmental awareness – surrounded by nature, boys learn more about the flora and fauna that make up the woods around camp, and our place in it.

F: Friendships – It’s often said that you come to camp for the activities, but you stay for the people.

Friends on a Cabin OvernightFriends on a Cabin Overnight

G: Growth – physical, mental, social, and spiritual

H: Helpfulness – campers have to practice being a helpful community member, especially in such close quarters. Helping friends during activities, helping younger campers on trips, and helping cabin mates during cabin cleanup are just some examples.

I: Independence – boys are able to experience camp away from parents and teachers back home, giving them a sense of independence at a young age. In longer sessions, they can “choose their own adventure,” deciding what activities and trips they want to do, not based on what an adult tells them they should like.

J: Joy – each day at camp is full of this.

Free Swim = Joy!Free Swim = Joy!

L: Life-long skills – these skills that are learned at camp get built on every summer, and the lessons stay with boys long after they have aged out of camp. Many alumni tell us that they are the people they are today because of skills and values they were able to learn at camp.

M: Mentorships – a counselor has to fill a lot of roles, including being a caretaker, friend, big brother/sister, and teacher. The mentorships built between camper and counselor are priceless, and campers often grow up to be counselors themselves.

N: Time in Nature – If you grow up in an urban area, you don’t get a lot of time to spend outdoors. At camp, every minute of the day is spent either in nature or in open-air structures, enjoying some of that “vitamin N.”

O: Optimism – Positive Attitude is one of the four components of our Falling Creek Code, and our campers and counselors model it daily through their kind words and actions.

P: Play – at camp, boys can enjoy unstructured play, away from the overly scheduled routines at home and in school.

Q: Quiet – just kidding! You never hear anyone ask, “please use your inside voice” at camp unless it’s Rest Hour. The fun part about camp is that it’s a place where boys can celebrate being boys. That means that even though there is a time for being quiet, boys are also free to be loud, messy, and excited all day long.

R: Resilience – camp is the perfect place to try something new, but it’s also a supportive place to deal with failure. Boys learn to be resilient when they try new activities, or even when they spend their first session away from home and face some homesickness. This life lesson is essential for enduring potential setbacks and seeing improvements in the future.

S: Servant’s Heart – one of the four parts of the Falling Creek Code, we practice exercising our servant’s heart on a daily basis. Serving others and putting the needs of friends above our own is especially important when we live in a tight knit community at camp. We see Servant’s Heart in action at camp daily, including times when co-counselors get a cup of coffee for each other in the morning, boys take turns bringing the tray up at meals, campers help a friend practice basketball drills on the court for progressions, or a boy shares his hammock during free time.

S is also for S'mores Skills!S is also for S'mores Skills!

T: Thankfulness – During the blessings at each meal, when we pray at Church, reflect at Campfire, or share during Evening Embers, we practice being thankful for our many blessings. This practice helps nurture what we call, an “attitude of gratitude” throughout the session.

T is also for Teamwork, like when you work together with your canoe partner!T is also for Teamwork, like when you work together with your canoe partner!

U: Unplug – campers unplug by leaving all their gadgets at home, allowing them to engage with the real world, away from technology and the pressures of social media.

V: Value – boys learn that they are valued, not only by their parents back home, but by their camp friends and counselors, who extend their support network beyond what exists back home. At camp, boys learn they are loved and that they have what it takes.

W: Wonder – The activities at camp encourage daily wonder and delight in our surroundings. This can include marveling at a sunset from the Overlook view, fueling boys’ curiosity about the flora and fauna in this area on a nature hike, or letting boys interact with the many animals that call Falling Creek home (including chickens, horses, pigs, and camp dogs). No matter what catches a boy’s attention, we like to encourage that curiosity and wonder.

X: X marks the spot – at camp we play tons of games, including Wild Wild West which is like a big treasure hunt and capture the flag rolled into one! Even though learning the games themselves is fun, playing these games helps teach teamwork and communication as boys work with their teams to win (but they also learn sportsmanship if they lose).

Y: Yourself – everyone is encouraged to be themselves at camp! Camp is a supportive community where you can come as you are, and not worry about having to “fit in.”

Z: it’s ok to be zany! You’ll learn pretty quickly at camp that being silly and crazy is totally acceptable. Everyone from the campers to the counselors (and directors) can act a little zany at camp, which just adds to the fun. Everyone is free to be themselves!

It’s been another great day of Junior Camp, and we’ve been busy learning a little of all these things from A to Z. Even as boys played in their activities today, they were learning these values and skills – whether they know it or not, the things they learn at camp will stick with them for years to come! We’re looking forward to another full day of activities tomorrow, and can’t wait to tell you all about the fun we’ve been having on Friday!

-Annie Pharr

More Highlights From This Wednesday:

  • Today was “neon themed” day! Campers and counselors were encouraged to wear their brightest clothing to breakfast this morning, setting a bright mood for the day.
  • Breakfast: pancakes and bacon, cheesy grits, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, granola, cottage cheese, fresh blueberries and strawberries, and cereal.
  • Lunch: Philly cheese steak subs with pasta salad and sundried tomatoes, chicken noodle soup, sliced apples, a full salad bar, and M&M cookies for dessert
  • Dinner: A Thanksgiving style meal with sliced turkey and gravy, roasted baby potatoes, green beans, rolls, a full salad bar, and caramel banana cake for dessert.
  • This evening, the second half of camp headed out for their overnights! It’s a clear, beautiful night, and we can’t wait to hear how they went in the morning.
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Morning Watch and Cabin Overnights

Jumping for joy! (with help from the Blob)Jumping for joy! (with help from the Blob)

It was a peaceful morning on the mountain as we gathered for Morning Watch today. Morning Watch is a time where we come together for a thought to start the day, quietly taking in the morning sights and sounds as we sit on the benches by the lake. Throughout the summer, counselors (and at times, campers) take turns sharing a daily thought, challenge, or story, which is often based on a part of the Falling Creek Code. It’s the first thing we do each morning, and today Perry was the counselor who spoke.

“Today I wanted to talk to you about perseverance,” he began. “To me, perseverance means being willing to withstand something you think is negative.” Perry related this to the daily chores that campers share in the cabins. Sweeping the floor or making your bed isn’t the most fun thing to do each day, but persevering efficiently through a task that isn’t your favorite leads to more time for fun activities. Perseverance is also a big part of Warrior Spirit in the Falling Creek code, especially when you persevere through something that is intimidating at first. Boys might not make it to the top of the climbing wall on the first try, they might be initially intimidated by the zipline’s height, or they might face some homesickness during their first time away from mom and dad. However, through the encouragement of their peers, support from their counselors, and perseverance within themselves, they will continue to try, and grow from these attempts.

Camp sets boys up for success as much as possible, but more importantly, camp is a safe place to fail. Boys learn that it’s okay to not be the best at everything, but it’s always encouraged to try. At Falling Creek, failure doesn’t mean you did a bad job, and it doesn’t mean you have to be ashamed or worry about bullying. Instead, camp is a place unique from school or home because boys are exposed to controlled risk, appropriate challenge, and the freedom to fail. This is important, because with that freedom to fail comes the opportunity for growth, and that’s what new experiences at camp are all about.

All smiles on the field today!All smiles on the field today!

For many boys, one new experience at camp is the Cabin Overnights. During every session at Falling Creek, each cabin gets to go on an overnight together. With our increasingly urban societies, there are a growing number of boys (and youth in general) who don’t have the opportunity to go camping. Though the activities offered at camp are undoubtedly fun, the opportunities for camping out in the woods are invaluable. Some boys who come to camp have never had the chance to sleep in a primitive campsite, or spend time away from “man-made noises” like cars and machinery. Even though we don’t have the time to go on a trip off camp property during Junior Camp, a boy can still have the experience of camping outdoors with the cabin overnight. It might even make him realize how fun camping is, and that he has what it takes to sign up for a trip on a longer session!

Nothing like camp friendsNothing like camp friends

While the boys were loading their packs with supplies to make chicken fajitas for supper, there was plenty of excited chatter. Grant had never been camping before, and was curious but excited about how it would go. In Cabin 5, Kieran told me, “this is going to be my third time ever camping!” They were preparing to go to the shelter named Ridgetop, and were excited since it’s the only double-decker shelter. His cabin mate was carrying a big pot, and told me “I bet we’re making pancakes for dinner!” “With a pot?” I asked him. When he found out they would actually be cooking chicken fajita tortillas and s’mores, he exclaimed, “oh, that sounds even better!”

Cabin Honeymoon was ready to go, each camper armed with his own hiking stick. The boys had been searching for the perfect hiking sticks that afternoon, preparing to head out on the trails. The boys weren’t the only ones ready to go: “Boo bear,” Brandon’s teddy bear, was tucked safely into his arm for the hike. Cole had nestled “Nippy,” the stuffed rabbit, into the top pocket of his pack so that he could see out while they walked. Maybe if Nippy and Boo bear are lucky, the boys will share a bite of their s’mores with them tonight.

Falling Creek sits on 890 acres of beautiful mountain-top land. However, the main area of camp is only a relatively small portion of that, which means that many boys don’t get the chance to explore all the miles of trails and dozens of shelter outposts scattered across this mountain. These include classic shelters that some alumni remember, like Octagon, as well as newer shelters like the Shire. One of my favorites is Chief’s Lookout, which faces a great mountain overlook, perfect for watching the sun set in the evening. During Cabin Overnights, boys have the chance to not only get to know their cabin-mates better, but also see a little more of Falling Creek than they would otherwise see in their daily activities. When cabins take their overnights to these shelters, they get a quick glimpse into the beauty that this mountain has to offer, enticing boys to come back year after year until they’ve seen all the trails and corners of this property.

Tonight, half of camp headed out on their Cabin Overnights, and tomorrow night the other half is doing the same. While those camping out were prepared with ingredients for chicken fajitas, chips and salsa, and s’mores, the rest of camp enjoyed pizza in the Dining Hall, handmade by our awesome kitchen crew. In the morning, we’ll welcome everyone back and share breakfast together before another fun day of activities. We’re looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

-Annie Pharr

These guys meant business during yesterday's Evening ProgramThese guys meant business during yesterday's Evening Program

More Highlights From This Monday:

  • Today was Superhero Day! All the boys and counselors were dressed in capes, their favorite superhero t-shirts, or even full superhero costumes.
    Superhero themed shirt while blacksmithing!Superhero themed shirt while blacksmithing!
  • Breakfast: Chicken biscuits with scrambled eggs, hash browns, oatmeal, and a yogurt and granola bar with fresh blueberries and cottage cheese.
  • Lunch: Taco Tuesday! Boys could make their own soft tacos or nachos, with ground beef, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream on the table. They could also opt for a taco salad from our stocked salad bar, or broccoli and cheddar soup, plus everyone’s favorite s’mores pockets for dessert.
  • Dinner: Chicken fajitas cooked outdoors with salsa and cheese (plus s’mores) for our boys on overnights. Homemade pizzas, salad, and grapes for the rest of us.
  • Evening Program included the Catawba Tribe playing a huge game of the ever popular dodgeball in the Thunder Dungeon, while the Iroquois Tribe played a series of fun games on the turf field.
    Getting creative in Arts and CraftsGetting creative in Arts and Crafts
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Fun on Day One

We're having a ball already!We're having a ball already!

The first thing people notice when they arrive at camp on Opening Day, is often the incredible mountain view from our overlook, gazing out across the Green River Valley and the surrounding hills of green. This morning as the sun peeked over the ridge, those same mountains were shrouded in a sleepy mist, blanketing the valley and making the view even more spectacular. The weather was cool and crisp as we woke up, since it rained during the night but was clear before the morning bell. Energized by the refreshing temperatures, everyone gathered eagerly at breakfast, fueling up with a hearty meal to prepare for the first full day ahead.

Chef David and the rest of our kitchen crew had been busy early, preparing homemade french toast on the griddle for breakfast. We also enjoyed sausage links, grits with butter and cheese, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh blueberries, strawberries, and oranges, as well as cereal on every table for plenty of options. After the meal, we started the day off right with Morning Assembly on the front porch before activities. Morning Assembly is the time where everyone gathers for songs, skits, and announcements to start the day. It’s funny, high-energy, and sets the mood for a great day. With a full day of activities ahead of us, there was no time to waste, and cabin groups were heading excitedly to their first locations of the day.

Every great day starts with Morning Assembly!Every great day starts with Morning Assembly!

At the F.A.R.M. (Food, Animals, Repurposing, and Manpower), the boys would be building terrariums, taking a tour of the garden, and playing with the chickens. Before building their personal terrariums in jars, the FARM Manager, Zeb, explained how terrariums are home to a tiny ecosystem. He detailed the water cycle that happens in a terrarium through condensation and evaporation, comparing it to earth’s water cycle on a larger scale, and how rain is necessary for the plants in our garden. Each boy added pebbles, soil, and moss to their terrariums. They could also decorate them with small plastic dinosaurs.

After making terrariums, the cabins were able to see what was growing in the raised beds in the garden. “Who can tell me what kinds of bugs are good in a garden, and what kinds are bad?” Zeb asked the group. They were observing some tiny aphids that had found their way onto our okra plants, and the campers all pointed out that these bugs were pests. However, several boys also spotted little ladybugs, slowly making their way along the leaves and eating the aphids as they went. They also spotted spiders and a praying mantis, both good for eating other pests on the garden plants. As they moved through the tomato plants, carrots, snap peas, and squash, the boys were able to see a whole ecosystem of bugs that they didn’t usually notice in their day to day lives. They also got to see the tiny watermelon which were slowly growing, guess which plant was rhubarb, and pick one of the radishes to taste it. “This tastes so spicy!”, Miller exclaimed, surprised.

Some of camp's fine feathered friendsSome of camp's fine feathered friends

Gray M. was eager to meet camp’s 23 chickens. “My grandparents have a farm too,” he told me. “Except I don’t think their chickens like me much.” He held out a worm for one of the chickens to eat from our compost area, and was excited when the hen pecked it right out of his hand. “Did you see? That chicken just ate my worm!” Ty was the first boy to hold a chicken, picking up Queenie, a Rhode Island Red who is one of our most social and curious hens. She walked right up to him, acting like the queen of the coop, just like her name.

Though hanging out with the chickens was an exciting moment, the boys had plenty more excitement ahead. I asked Hugh what he was most looking forward to, and he said it was horseback. “I’ve only ever ridden small ponies around in a circle at the zoo,” he explained. When I told him that the barn staff would be taking them on a ride around camp on our horses, his eyes lit up. “Oh! This is gonna be so fun!” he exclaimed.

Thumbs up for a great first day!Thumbs up for a great first day!

The fun part about Junior Camp is that the boys get to try every activity, enjoying a sampler plate of what camp has to offer. After a delicious lunch of grilled cheese, tomato soup, pasta and kale salad, and caramel sugar cookies, we celebrated the birthday of Max in Cabin Gall! We then recharged during Rest Period, and headed right back into the activities for the afternoon. There were boys paddling around in canoes on the Lower Lake, coloring crazy patterns with oil pastels in Arts and Crafts, climbing to the top of the Climbing Wall, making arrowheads in Blacksmithing, practicing their aim in riflery and archery, and more. Over these next few days, each boy will get their chance to visit every activity. The eagerness and excitement throughout the camp community is palpable, as the boys run from one fun activity to another with their cabins.

BIrthdays at camp are so much fun!BIrthdays at camp are so much fun!
Reaching the top of the climbing wall!Reaching the top of the climbing wall!

Tonight’s dinner was baked chicken with potato wedges, honey glazed carrots, a full salad bar, and vanilla pudding with Oreo sprinkles on top. For Evening Program, the entire camp split into Green and Gold sides and then played a campwide game of Capture The Flag. Each team has its own half of camp that is theirs to defend. In this version of the game, each cabin group must stay together. You can move anywhere in camp within the boundary that Smat described to everyone. If you encounter another cabin on your side, you can challenge them to a rock, paper, scissors duel to gain valuable items the other team may have in their possession. There are also hidden balls on the opposite side of your team that you can quietly sneak into enemy territory with your cabin group to see if you can find. These balls will gain your team points. If you find the main opponents color flag, and can pick it up and successfully run it back to your side, then that becomes huge points for your team. Without question, both the boys and the counselors were loving playing this game tonight. Even the camp physician and his family were playing hard tonight.

After the big EP tonight, the boys ran to the Dining Hall to enjoy milk and cookies. Everyone headed to bed happily exhausted, ready to do it all again tomorrow morning.

-Annie Pharr

Flag football is as popular as ever this session!Flag football is as popular as ever this session!
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