We’ve been waiting all summer for this whirlwind week of fun, and today Junior Camp Opening Day is finally here! Junior Camp may be our shortest session of the summer, but we pack all the same fun and energy into these 6 days, making it the perfect introduction to camp for our youngest campers. When the wake-up bell rang this morning, it was already shaping up to be a great day at Falling Creek. All the counselors were dressed to greet families in their white polos, and we were fortunate to have blue skies and sunny weather to welcome campers today. When the gates opened, there were eager boys waiting to drive up the mountain and start their week of adventures.

Settling in and making friends alreadySettling in and making friends already

From there, it was the exciting bustle of moving into cabins, greeting new friends, and plugging into the games around camp. Counselors were helping move trunks into bunks, taking group photos of families as they walked down the steps to the lake, and directing enthusiastic campers towards their cabins. The energy was contagious, and before lunch even started there were already games on the field, dodgeball and basketball in the gym, and warrior ball at the dining hall. Most of the boys this session are coming to Falling Creek for their first summer ever, but we also have a few boys who will be returning for another summer of adventure and reuniting with their friends from last year. We have campers joining us from 17 different states and 2 different countries, but regardless of where they traveled from, they were all ready for a fun and memorable week.

Two thumbs up for the first day!Two thumbs up for the first day!

Boys were greeted as they came down the hill to the dining hall, some carrying backpacking packs as big as them, already prepared for exploring. Even though we have a few boys return, Junior Camp has a session length that is ideal for brand new campers to check out Falling Creek for the first time. The format of the week is different from our other sessions, so that boys have a chance to try each activity at least once. Since boys move around as a cabin to try out all the activities together, it is a great “sampler plate” of what camp has to offer. We had plenty of boys who were wide eyed and excited after arriving on camp property today, eager to try new things and meet new friends.

Finding our cabins for the week!Finding our cabins for the week!

If you’re young boy stepping onto the Falling Creek property for the first time, the array of opportunities and activity options can seem overwhelming. Luckily, with the younger ages this session, cabins do everything as a group, ensuring that each boy is involved and engaged. This way, they try activities that they may have never thought to do on their own! Along with the traditional camp activities, boys in this session still get to experience typical Falling Creek traditions, including Morning Watch, Morning Assembly, cabin overnights, free choice times, rest hour, Evening Program, and Campfire on the final night of the session. Helping boys have fun and build confidence away from home is the central focus of this session. Junior Camp is unique with it’s high levels of energy and fun-filled days, especially when we have so many young campers in that wiggly and excited phase of their lives. Our counselors are ready to match the same levels of excitement that the boys bring this week!

Meeting counselors and getting settled in to the cabinMeeting counselors and getting settled in to the cabin

In a session this short there’s no time to waste, so we hit the ground running today! After you all started heading back home today, the activities began with no hesitation. Before our traditional Sunday lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and a warm roll (a favorite for both campers and staff), the boys had a quick cabin meeting to officially meet each other, and then gathered as a camp community at the Morning Watch area. Yates, Marisa, and Program Director, Kyle, welcomed all of the excited boys and quickly described the week ahead, explained the Falling Creek community resources available to the boys, and reviewed the emergency procedures. After lunch, each cabin followed a rotation of activities that included fun games, checking in with the medical team, smiling for a cabin photo, learning the process of getting a life jacket to enjoy free swim each day, and visiting the Dining Hall to learn what mealtimes would look like. The boys then jumped right into enjoying the first period of the 17 activities they look forward to participating in over the session.

Welcome to camp!Welcome to camp!

For dinner, we hosted a picnic supper next to McGrady Gym. The boys and counselors enjoyed grilled hamburgers with all the fixins, homemade potato salad, Texas Caviar, and slaw, with a brownie for dessert. The cabin groups had a chance to sit together on the turf field, enjoying the atmosphere that many campers say is one of their favorite camp traditions. Evening Program was a huge scavenger hunt, loaded with fun and crazy items that the boys worked together to check off as cabin groups. After our crazy, fun, Opening Day, the boys headed back to their cabins for their bedtime routine and Evening Embers. This is a time to talk as a cabin and check in with each other about how the day went, stories they want to share, or what they are most excited for tomorrow. As you can see, it was a busy and exciting first day, and it will only get better from here!

Already having a ball!Already having a ball!

If you want to keep up with what’s going on at camp in a more visual way, our summer photo system within your CampInTouch account provides a great way for you and your family, friends, and guests to have a window into your camper’s summer experience. Our intention is not to try to be comprehensive and capture a photo of every camper and counselor every day, but give you a broad idea of what is going on at camp. CampMinder, our technology partner, helps us to offer an intuitive interface that we hope you’ll enjoy. We will post news and photos by lunch each day reflecting on the previous day.

When you access the photo system within CampInTouch, you’ll immediately notice the organization of photo albums. If you happen to review photos from the longer sessions, there are trips that the boys can sign up for, and these trips are posted separately and by individual adventure. You’ll also see a season selector at the top of the screen (which also gives you easy access to great camp memories from years past!). Selecting a photo gives you a much larger view of that image, and from there, you can swipe or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the entire album.

Downloading, sharing, saving favorites, and purchasing special photos or gifts is also very easy to do. Use the gray and white button (next to the yellow shopping cart button) for a menu of options including downloading of the photo to your computer. Downloads are free, so do not add photos you want to download for free to your shopping cart (Special prints and photo gifts are available for purchase through CampMinder, so use the shopping cart for those items). The “star” icon in the upper left corner of the photo is a quick way to select favorites to save for later viewing, downloading, or ordering. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our camp office if you have any questions or issues with the photo system features.

This summer we are also excited to remind you about Waldo, an optional photo delivery service where you can get all the photos of your camper delivered straight to your phone! Waldo is separate from your CampMinder account. It uses facial recognition to match your camper’s face to photos in our album, and then sends links to the photos to you via text messages. Parents, be sure to check your emails for more detail, but we hope that this can save you time and make it easier to see your son’s adventures.

We also encourage you to check out our news being posted daily on Yates’ personal Facebook page (yates.pharr), the Yates’ Yak blog on CampMinder, Falling Creek Camp’s facebook page, our Instagram site (@fallingcreek), and on the Falling Creek Website (fallingcreek.com/blog).

We hope that you all had safe travels today after we saw you at camp. We feel very fortunate that you chose to share your son with us for an exciting week at camp. Friday, August 9th will be here quicker than the boys want it to be and we are ready to make the most of their time with us!

-Annie Pharr