Camp Rockmont is a special place – a community set aside for new experiences and new friendships and one that is infused with a whole lot of fun.
It’s a place where we emphasize play because we know and value its many benefits to relieve stress, boost creativity, and create connections with others. During the off-season, we brainstorm new ways to bring the fun, and during the summer, we encourage the campers to play with gusto.
Earlier this year, as I was looking for new ways to play, I bought a pogo stick. Not the kind my friends had as a kid in the 70s, though. This is an extreme sports version that uses an air spring and has the capability of jumping over 10 feet high. I suppose that I was looking for a thrill and a challenge. I certainly found it!
When my son, Micah, returned home from college quite abruptly in March, he noticed the Vurtego on the porch. “Mom, what’s this?” he asked. I replied with glee, “Oh, that’s my pogo stick. It’s so fun!” At this point, the trajectory of our exchange could have sprung sideways. Micah could have responded with indifference or not at all. He could have rolled his eyes and replied with some snarky comment indicating that maybe I’m too old for the activity.
To my delight, he matched my enthusiasm. “Mom, that’s awesome! I can’t wait to try it out with you.”
This was the same sentiment of many of our campers this summer who came with their families to Family Retreats: a great enthusiasm at being able to share the fun of camp. We witnessed sons issuing invitations to their parents to try new activities. There were moms and dads who said to their children, “let’s go down the zip line together this time.” Siblings who had never before been to Rockmont got in on the fun too. We observed the deepening connections among family members and also the exploding joyfulness.
That’s the power of play!
It can unite and delight, just as it did for Micah and me when pogoing became an almost daily ritual for us during the first several months of quarantine. A couple of times a day, one of us would emerge from our new work/school routine (think LOTS of screen time) to entice the other to take a mental health break. We’d grab the stick, head outside to the driveway or a nearby empty parking lot, put on some music and our helmets, of course, and bounce.
Pogoing requires concentration, balance, and endurance to stay upright. It also requires humility (it looks easier than it is!) and a pretty good sense of humor. It’s an activity that elicits lots of laughter.
We did it for the laughter and the fun. We did it as an opportunity to claim some moments of childhood joy. We did it for the challenge and fitness. And most importantly, we did it for our connection and time well spent together.
We loved our quarantine fun! Everything about it. Well, not the occasional falls, but they were worth it. Little by little, we improved and gained confidence and control.
We rediscovered that play is double the fun when shared with others who can encourage and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small.
So here’s the lesson: play is important and we should take it seriously.
At Rockmont, we are busy getting ready to bring the fun in 2021, and we are eager to play with and alongside those of you who are coming to camp! In the meantime, we’ll commit to making play a regular part of our days. After all, we’ve got to practice what we preach.
Will you join us?