Summer Camp Gives Us StrengthPosted by Alicia DeHart on May 26, 2020
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard phrases like “unprecedented times” and “uncharted waters” numerous times. Past Fernwood Cove blogs have referenced a “new normal” as we settle into life’s changes over the past few months. We never imagined it would lead us to the unimaginable…a summer without camp. As camp directors we dedicate months of time to ensure the summer camp experience is the best it can be. Now, just like you, we are processing through the sadness and loss of not having camp this summer. As we acknowledge our feelings we have begun to recognize how summer camp gives us strength during life’s difficult times.
This strength comes in the support from the larger Fernwood Cove community. For us as directors, it also comes from other summer camp professionals. We also find strength in the lessons learned throughout our camp experiences. Each day of camp prepares us all for life outside of 350 Island Pond Road. The sleepaway camp experience is so much more than campfires and water skiing and Miss Fernwood Cove. The Fernwood Cove experience prepares campers, CITs, and staff for all of life’s adventures. Its shows us how to celebrate in the most extraordinary ways. It also teaches us how to support each other through struggle and disappointment. And this may just be where the skills learned at camp are most valuable.
Summer Camp Gives Us Strength In Friendships
There are many unique aspects about the friendships developed at summer camp. Summer camp friendships are developed in an immersive environment that allows you to get to know someone on a completely different level. There’s a year’s worth of experiences piled into a three and a half week session at Fernwood Cove. This intentional (and exhausting) experience intensifies our connections so they continue to thrive after we leave camp. The magic of camp friendships is our ability to pick up right we left off. Whether it’s a school year or five years or more we come together like no time has passed. This is shown in our connections at reunions. In renewed friendships when there are individual missed summers. And most recently in the outpouring of support we’ve received at camp. Summer camp gives us strength in friendships that stand the test of time. And in friendships that show up when we need them most.
As we continue to navigate our days and the coming changes that are sure to happen it’s important to remain connected with our camp friends. We have seen amazing connections among current campers, alumni, and Fernwood Cove staff over the past few weeks and months. We won’t be returning to camp to connect in-person this summer. But this doesn’t mean we can’t continue to connect in different ways. The magic of camp is in the people, our relationships, and our shared experiences. Summer 2020 is a unique opportunity to create that magic between camp friends and the camp community in new and different ways.
Making Lemonade From Our Lemons
Working at summer camp challenges you in a multitude of ways. The discussion of having a back-up plan begins as early as a staff member’s interview. During the summer we discuss creative problem solving and focusing on a solution instead of the problem. This applies to disagreements between campers in a bunk. It comes up when supplies for an activity didn’t arrive in time. We facilitate these discussions when counselors call camp on Trip Day because they are caught in storms at their trip location and are looking for alternatives. Each day of the summer we are making lemonade from our lemons. These moments of difficulty teach us how to weather the storms on Trip Day and the storms of life.
Learning through the challenges and struggles at camp teach us a variety of life skills like problem solving, communication, and flexibility. They also build self-confidence and resilience as we learn through our personal failures and struggles. We develop empathy while we support our camp friends through their challenges. These are some of the most valuable things we gain from our time at summer camp in Maine. When life outside of camp challenges us in new ways it’s important to remember these skills. It’s also important to remember how our challenges at camp helped us to learn and grow. Summer 2020 may not be the summer we were planning it to be. However, it can be an amazing opportunity to learn and grow in different ways. And it can be a time for us to be grateful for today’s lemons. And even more grateful for the lemonade summer 2021 will bring.