Summer Sparkle: Glowing Moments Across Farm & Wilderness Camps
By Adair Arbor, Jarod Wunneburger, Clarissa Thompson, Emily Mathon, Kate Kyros, and Elliott Siegrest-Jones
This summer tested our camps’ resilience in many ways, and, sometimes even because of the unexpected challenges, held some really incredible glowing moments in each of our camp programs. Here’s a round-up of some of the most amazing moments of the summer!
Barn Day Camp: Topsy Turvy Tuesdays! A beloved BDC program element, the second Tuesday of each two-week session is reserved for extra silliness and creativity. Staff picks a theme for the day and switches up typical camp schedule to dig into fun, extra-creative activities. The first Topsy Turvy Tuesday was space themed, and we decorated the play structure to look like a huge spaceship! The last Topsy Turvy Tuesday’s theme was Goat Celebration, which included a goat parade (complete with costumes and floats) and camper-made decorations, cards, and goat appreciations. This year we welcomed back the Topsy Turvy Contradance! Each Topsy Turvy Tuesday this summer was an incredible experience of blossoming creativity and delivered an extra dose of camp enthusiasm for both campers and staff!
Timberlake: Flood Resilience as a Moment of Joy! When the rains hit Woodward hard, it was hard to know how to move forward with normal programming. After a full day inside, the weather started to break a little bit. TL’s leadership team unanimously decided to get the kids outside and moving. They rallied the kids in the spirit of community, getting them excited about helping to redirect the streaming water. Equipped with rain gear and shovels, Timberlake campers rose to the occasion, spending their evening program time moving rocks, digging ditches, and working together. While the work was challenging, it was a real-life version of how kids naturally love to play in a stream flipping rocks and scooping mud! The energy was high and felt empowering to the campers, who, of course, came for an epic experience. Their teamwork was awesome, and that night’s morale boost carried our community through the rest of the storm’s impact. Work is love made visible.
Firefly Song: Grand Circuit! Even though it was a rough year for the waterfront because of the floods, it turned out to be a great year for the Grand Circuit challenge, a Firefly Song tradition where campers train to swim all the way around the lake. First session, we lost lake access when the floods made the water temporarily unsafe. In a beautiful display of resilience, campers asked their waterfront head, “What if we could still do the challenge by swimming the same length in a pool somewhere?” We took a van full of eager campers to the Quechee Club, where not only did they swim several miles in pool laps to achieve their goals, but also got to celebrate with the sweet luxury of indoor showers! Session 2 brought a more familiar experience since our lake was safe once again. As usual, campers and staff swam the challenge in the lake accompanied by a coterie of canoers/kayakers to cheer them on and keep them safe. One Session 2 camper even swam a quadruple Grand Circuit—a huge and possibly unprecedented achievement!
Tamarack Farm: Puppet Immersion and Bread and Puppet Theater! TF’s art immersion this summer culminated in a puppet-show, featuring beautifully crafted puppets of all sizes, storylines that explore complex emotions, and an original score performed by campers. As part of this learning experience, all of TF visited Bread and Puppet Theater, a performance art project created by a Vermont community of activists. We even met a tour guide who was an F&W alum! He spoke to our teens about how Timberlake and Tamarack Farm changed his life. We wrapped up the day with a pizza lunch hosted by Polly Williams, Director of Alumni Relations.
Flying Cloud: Return of the Woodward Service trip! A long-held Flying Cloud tradition, this trip is open to senior campers at FC. While it’s framed to them upon sign-up as purely a service trip, the fun surprise is that it’s also about night-time scouting skills and good-natured pranking. The challenge comes from both learning body awareness skills and preparedness to journey through the forest at night, and providing needed help at Woodward camps during the day. This year’s “prank of love” was surprising Woodward with a full supply of firewood magically appearing one morning for the enormous Fair fire!
SAM Camp: Revamp of Wilderness Adventurers! SAM Camp has always had opportunities for young outdoor explorers to hone their skills through challenges like the 24-Hour Solo and Get Lost hike. This year saw the addition of a structured, level-achievement system of skill acquisition, where campers could prepare for capstone challenges by moving through their Explorer, Navigator, and Voyager levels. 15 campers this summer achieved all three levels, coming out of the experience having proved their ability to tie 9 knots, build tarp and brush shelters, start and maintain a fire and a wet-weather fire, navigate with map and compass, and recite all Leave No Trace principles.