I love Opening Day for so many reasons – seeing the returning campers reunite with friends, and witnessing first-year campers look out over the waterfront for the first time (generally their eyes get really, really big!).
And I love the first full day of camp even more.
After cabins have participated in a few getting to know you games, played a few group activities, enjoyed a few good meals, and received a good night’s sleep, they wake up to a day FULL of cabin fun, and they start to settle into the routines of camp, and find ways to thrive within them.
Some of my favorite aspects of Bear Camp are the in-between moments: between the lodge and an activity, between two skill locations, or even between the Birch Lodge and the Dining Hall (about 60 feet).
A cabin of Bear campers and Bear Camp counselors can turn these transitional periods into some of the greatest adventures.
Last night, I got to witness our youngest cabins as they adventured through camp on a Scavenger Hunt – designed to both be fun, and to allow campers to get some bearings on the layout of camp, and all it has to offer. One of my favorite moments was witnessing cabin one near the stream behind the Dam. Counselors Elijah & Jordan got the entire cabin to make a plan… And then they bolted off to the next destination, skipping, jumping, and laughing hilariously.
They were giggling, talking, and having an absolute blast.
Today, campers were able to harness all their pre-existing or newly formed knowledge of camp and its sense of adventurous friendship as they ventured through all 5 of their pre-selected skills.
We have over 30 skill sites spread-out around the property, so there is some navigation involved. A lot of campers are heading to sites they may’ve only passed during an opening day tour. Some may even be venturing to regions of camp like Homesteading (my favorite skill), for the first time.
And there’s a call to action we deliver every first Monday of a session:
Directors, counselors, and veteran campers spread out all around camp after the bugle blows to head to first skill. Sounds of “What skill are you heading to?” can be heard in every corner of camp. Instead of of simply pointing the way, our staff and campers respond with an invitation.
“What skill are you headed to?”
“Fantastic, I’m headed that way too!’
And groups of campers and staff venture off to their skills showing one another the way. As one saying at camp goes: “When one of us knows the way, we all know the way”.
Knowledge isn’t zero sum.
Today campers got to experience the symbiosis of living in an active community that shares resources, light, and knowledge.
And today I heard a story of a cabin 1 camper who has only been here for a single day showing another Buckeye camper to Table Games. Table Games lies under the Ship – a building built by Black Mountain College students and professors in the 40s. It can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. The skill also happens to sit in the shadow of two concrete supports that serve the space as they bear the load of the building above them, but also as they hold two historic Frescos from Jean Charlot – a French-American artist who visited the college in the summer of 1946.
After I heard the story of the camper showing the way I popped down to Table Games for a game of ping-pong and to see how the skill was going. There was the guide camper playing quite a competitive game of Ping-Pong with his new friend who needed to know the way – all in the shadow of a priceless fresco, fittingly named, knowledge.
I’m glad I was able to witness these stories from Cabin 1 over the last 24 hours. It’s remarkable, too, to know these were only some of the thousands of moments like it happening all over camp since we opened our gates on Sunday