In the early 2000s, seven folks in this photo were some of the Barn Day Camps youngest campers. Now, two are current counselors. Do you think that they were thinking about becoming counselors while they ate with the rest of the Butterflies, our youngest group, at lunchtime?
One of the special things about Farm & Wilderness and the Barn Day Camp is, for many of us, the privilege of watching kids grow up. We have watched them use a hammer for the first time and create huge projects that their adults have to figure out how to get home. We have watched them build forts in the woods while their parents were still working at camp. We have watched them go from swimming in red to swimming in purple. We have watched them go from using a day pack on their overnights to using a full-fledged pack. They started with an overnight at the BDC and many ended their camper career doing 7-day trips with full packs of food and equipment. Many of us consider these kids our own children. We hear about athletic accomplishments, proms, academic achievements, and family joys.
The biggest privilege is getting to watch those folks come back as staff, where they do everything from being in charge of the youngest campers to participating in every morning activity skit. The staff members come back and many of them say it’s because they want to give back. Some struggled as campers and had counselors that took the time to get to know them and help. Now, they are returning that favor. They are running with the staff kids at the end of the day, never forgetting what it was like for them to have a parent who worked at camp. They show patience in ways that staff showed them as a camper. They step up in ways that are beyond their age. They mentor other staff on the ins and outs of F&W.
Watching these staff go from 3-year-old campers to full-time-counselors is one of the most amazing privileges to be afforded. Not all folks who have returned to be staff are in this picture. The last pieces of the forts in the woods have disappeared, the Art Building replaced, gardens moved, butterfly nest remodeled, and many other changes have happened since they started as young children. However, the spirit of the BDC continues. These folks continue that spirit and along with other staff, they continue to make the BDC a special place for folks to grow up.