I first came to Wolf Ridge three years ago as a counselor. I was halfway through college and decided that I would take a summer “off” from traditional jobs and internships, which I had previously spent my summers doing. My plan was to work at a canoe outfitter or a camp. I didn’t spend much time at traditional camps as a child, but my parents both spent several years working at summer camp, so camp life was in my blood. I was lucky that I had some family friends who suggested Wolf Ridge as a great place for me.
Of course, I soon learned that working at a camp is hardly a summer “off” in the traditional sense. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked harder or enjoyed a job more. I came back for a second summer, but after graduating college, I spent a summer working elsewhere in preparation for graduate school. However, something pulled me back to Wolf Ridge for a third summer, this time as Director of Programming. I am so excited to be back at Wolf Ridge and experiencing camp from a new perspective and facing new challenges and goals.
As Director of Programming, part of my job is to organize and teach games, which is as much fun as it sounds! Seeing a group of sixty kids flailing on the ground as “floppy crappies” (pronounced ‘croppies’ – like the fish!) is one of my favorite things. Last night, Monday, was the first night of All-Camp for the summer. All-Camp consists of everyone who is attending the traditional summer youth programs at Wolf Ridge participating in a large, usually silly game. Last night, we played Messengers and Interceptors, giant Jenga/Yahtzee, and Captain’s Coming, which is where the floppy crappies come into play. Kids and counselors alike act out nautical themed commands including floppy crappie, waving like a mermaid, eating sea plants like a manatee, getting seasick, pretending to be on the Titanic, and loudly singing “row row row your boat” while pretending to furiously paddle (ask your camper if you want more details!) This game in particular embodies one of the most important aspects of camp to me – the freedom to be silly and relaxed without worrying about being too grown up or too cool. At camp, everyone is free to play ridiculous games, sing outrageous songs and embrace the very best aspects of childhood, both staff and campers.
Of course, not all the magic of summer camp comes from the careful preparation, intense training and well-planned curriculum. For example, last night after most people were snug asleep in bed, a few staff members saw that the northern lights were supposed to be active. We checked outside, and lo and behold, the aurora borealis was dancing across the sky in waves and flashes. Normally, we value our sleep pretty highly at camp, since we are so busy. However, when something as rare and majestic as the northern lights are out, we make an exception and wake everyone up to go experience the unique beauty of the aurora. Standing out on the deck of the West Dorm listening to the exclamations of campers when a particularly bright flash of lights flew across the sky was a perfect start to the summer of 2015.
Throughout the summer, I hope to bring you tidbits of my job and share those special moments where everyone is free to be goofy, where campers and counselors experience something profound, and the things that I learn as we all go through this summer together.