Simple Living is Extraordinary at Summer CampPosted by on April 16, 2020

At Fernwood Cove we strive to empower our campers, CITs, and staff to become the best versions of themselves.  These goals are driven by the nine founding values of Fernwood Cove.  A couple of years ago the Fernwood Cove Directors decided to build awareness of these values and began the tradition of choosing a value to focus on each year.  For 2020 we chose “Simple Living”.  The value of Simple Living drives many aspects of daily life at camp.  It is the value that initiates many of the defining aspects of the Fernwood Cove community.  The impact of Simple Living is extraordinary at Fernwood Cove.

We certainly didn’t expect the events of 2020 to include a pandemic.  We have long recognized the value of Simple Living in our daily lives at Fernwood Cove.  The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important it is in our daily lives at home as well.  During the summer Simple Living helps us disconnect from devices and connect with each other.  Camp uniform eliminates labels and social status and unifies us.  The absence of care packages de-clutters our physical and mental space by eliminating excess and unnecessary material possessions.  This week we share our experiences from sleepaway camp to help you bring Simple Living home.  Because Simple Living is extraordinary at home too!

Simple Living is Extraordinary at Home

Simple Living at Fernwood Cove starts with the basics of where our campers live.  Fernwood Cove girls call their wood frame bunks without electricity home for three and a half weeks every year.  Some of the bunks at Fernwood Cove date back to the 1930’s and 40’s.  As they stand tried and true, so does the value of Simple Living.  Our homes away from camp aren’t as simplistic as a camp bunk.  But this shouldn’t overshadow the fact that simple living is extraordinary at home.  Small changes can significantly increase Simple Living in your daily lives.

From the beginning of sleepaway camp parents have been seeking opportunities for their children to escape the city and reconnect with nature.  The bunks at Fernwood Cove are immersed in the trees for this exact reason.  We recognize that not everyone has the ability to go to parks or other natural areas right now.  One solution is to bring nature inside.  The Gill family has planted seedlings in their house for the first time.  Sylvie and Perrin are so excited to see them sprout and grow!  Herb garden and other seed starting kits are available online if you’re not able to get to a local store.  Your new garden can bring nature inside and provide increased quality time with your family.  This is a double Simple Living bonus!

Disconnecting From Material Things

When we think about Simple Living at summer camp disconnecting from our electronics and social media seem obvious.  But at Fernwood Cove Simple Living goes much further.  Disconnecting from material things like care packages and fashion labels allow us to focus on what’s truly important.  Without the clutter of unnecessary things we connect on a deeper level with each other.  A basic deck of cards creates opportunities for fun connection that builds meaningful relationships and memories.  Our basic uniform allow us to move past the surface layers and get to know the truly important aspects of our fellow campers, CITs, and counselors.  We get to know people based on their interests, dreams, and future aspirations.

At home disconnecting from material things can be a little more difficult.  For Alicia’s family this has meant searching shelves for games, decks of cards, and activities that haven’t been used in a while.  Fighting the urge to go online and buy new things is key in limiting the clutter in our daily lives.  Now that we are staying at home our physical appearance isn’t likely the same priority as it was before.  By not focusing on our external appearance you have the opportunity to reflect and reconnect with who you are on the inside.  Additionally, you may see you have less laundry.  This has been true for the Gill family as they are able to wear clothing multiple days while they stay home.

Simple Living In A Social World

Each summer as campers arrive at camp they disconnect from their devices.  Not physically having their cell phones and other devices means they don’t have the option of logging in.  However Simple Living doesn’t end there.  Not posting photos during the camp session allows us to remain present – both physically and mentally.  Remaining present and recognizing the amazing things immediately surrounding us are key benefits of Simple Living.  However, simple living in a social world can be difficult.

There are certainly benefits in today’s social technology.  In the book Glow Kids author Nicholas Kardaras discusses digital vegetables and digital candy.  Just as it’s important to find balance in actual fruit and vegetables, it’s important to find balance in the digital world as well.  Connecting for our digital vegetables, particularly connecting with family and friends, during this continued time of physical distancing and stay at home orders is key.  However, as parents we have to ensure that there aren’t too many sweets- both the sugary and digital kinds.  Creating moments for face-to-face social connections through family game nights, meals, and even doing household chores.

Simple Living Is Important

Each summer girls return to camp in Maine to reconnect.  With nature.  With their friends.  And most importantly, with themselves.  The structure and intentionality of camp help Fernwood Cove girls do this and so much more.  However, camp is not the only place they can do this.  We can all learn, grow, and reconnect by adding the value of Simple Living to our daily lives.  Simple Living is important for our children as they learn and grow.  It is also greatly important for our families and the development of our family relationships.  With Simple Living as a guide this time of togetherness can build a foundation for lifelong positive relationships that will benefit your family for years and years to come.  As Fernwood Cove Director Jim said, “We will all be stronger and more focused on what is really important….”  What is more important than our relationships with our family?  Simple Living is extraordinary and with it as a guide your family can be as well.