The Magic of the First Full Day

Daniel Weatherby July 25, 2023

I’ve said it many times – the first full day of camp is one of my favorite days of a camp session. 

Camp begins with a jam-packed opening day, during which campers orient themselves to the Rockmont property and mission. However, the first full day of camp is when the adventure truly begins.  

Many campers rise early to greet the day an hour or two before breakfast. They are greeted by members of our Program Staff, who hang out on the porch of Eden Hall to witness the morning haul of fish, by the Hole 1 to watch the disc golfers tee-off, or at volleyball courts to jump in on some early morning Thunderball (GaGa Ball in some regions).

I try to make it out pretty early on the first day. It’s wonderful to see new friendships form, forged by the joint desire to rise early and seize the day. I also relish the chance to chat with campers myself. One of the disc golf groups flagged me down to ask if they could tee-off from somewhere new for Hole 1. 

“Of Course! It’s Summer Camp!”

I could see creative lights go off in their eyes. They proceed to begin hole 1 from every possible vantage point. They never moved to hole 2, because they didn’t need to. This is one of the many gifts camp has to offer – leaning in and saying a simple “Yes” to the creativity that is already alive in campers.

The day begins with breakfast, of course. 

This morning’s offering was french toast, sausage, yogurt, and PLENTY of fixings to add to the french toast. The initial recommended serving of 2 slices of french toast (pre-seconds) served as a Call to Action for many, as they crafted breakfast sandwiches. Like I said, creativity.

From breakfast, the campers moved to Morning Watch. A staple sound around the lodges this summer has been the Birch Tribe singing “Feliz Navidad” led by the Birch Tribal Director, Danny Carvente, who is from Puebla Mexico. It goes on and on and on. I asked Danny earlier this summer if he intentionally leads it for upwards of 5 minutes. 

“Nope, but anytime we try to land the ‘Feliz Navidad’ plane, they want to take another lap around the airport”. We’ve shared many laughs about it. More creativity in action!

From Morning Watch the campers move to Cabin Cleanup. Over the microphone in Eden Hall this morning I spoke to the importance of our daily Cabin Cleanup – a time to take both an inventory of your space, and for what you want from the day. Cabin Cleanup is incentivized by the hefty pursuit of winning the daily tribal trip to the Cola Stop – a place where the cabin who cleaned the most thorough, or added that extra flair of detail gets to go to enjoy a sweet treat. 

Our Hickory Tribal director, Zach Abbott, is one of the best judges of the daily cabin clean. He’ll bring keen insights from his cabin walkthrough the previous day’s cleanup to each Morning Watch. I’ve heard campers whisper, “he noticed our note!” as he describes some of the extra touches the cabins put on their spaces. Like many things, the cabins step it up throughout the session, trying to top what they built, wrote, or designed the day before.

The highlight of the day for me is the skill periods, but not for the reason(s) you may think. 

Campers depart their Tribal Areas in all directions, spreading out to go to their 1st skill – a sound or common phrase can be heard all over camp.

“What skill are you headed to?”

During this navigation, our director staff, counselors, and even veteran campers heed the call to lend a hand to our younger and first-time campers. On this day we make an important distinction that sheds some light on how we engage with one another in an active community:

When you need to know the way, there are communities who point you in the right direction, and there are communities who walk alongside you.

We’re a community made up of individuals who walk alongside each other, and it truly trickles down. I remember people who walked alongside me on this acreage when I needed to know the way to Homesteading, Rifelry, or even the Camp Store. Campers who are here for their second year join in, and staff who were strangers just 10 weeks ago collaborate on how to most efficiently, or even better, creatively travel with groups of campers to their skills.

One of my favorite moments of the day (if not the summer) was seeing our Head of Bear Camp, Sean Whitehead, driving one of our Kawasaki Mule vehicles by the gym. In the passenger seat and the cargo bed, there were no less than 5 Bear Campers grinning ear-to-ear as they took the 3 mph trek by the gym headed towards Air Riflery. 

The first full day of camp is just that – full. But session after session, and year after year it’s a day where the entire camp takes a breath and settles in to their community. 

I’m excited to see what this last two-week session will bring – both ready for the joyful moments ahead, and somewhat resistant, as this beautiful, fun, wondrous summer prepares for landing.



Daniel Weatherby

Associate Director

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