It’s Challenge Day at Greystone, a big deal (in case you didn’t already know)! Campers delight in the games, relays, matches, and races (all of which were challenges formally made and accepted at todays Assembly).
Everyone appreciates the slower pace of the day (no classes all morning and a relaxed game show EP). We start the fun as everyone cheers their teams at Volleyball and then spread out around camp to compete for points and cheer on our friends. The morning ends at Softball (when we will hand out cold Shasta cola and Sun Chips) and a Senior Tug-a-War. Challenge Day is appeciated not only for the games but because of the important moment it marks in our camp experience.
Today we crossed the ten-day mark, that point in the summer when we breathe a collective sigh and settle into camp life with unfettered delight. A day that Dr. Sevier took note of during our first summer in 1920. Ten days is when we form into a cohesive community that is hard to duplicate in less time. This is a fact that is hard to explain to those who think that a week of sleepaway camp is a very long time, but it is true.
Short camp sessions are fun. It is easy to entertain for a couple of weeks (it is a “sweet spot” for a fun camp experience) but the greatest growth happens when we allow sufficient time for the community to completely bond. Time for campers to let their guard down, to be themselves, and to perhaps not be on best behavior. Time to ask for and extend forgiveness. After ten days the real camp experience comes out. Campers learn to trust each other, confide in their counselors, and relax into a gloriously nuanced camp experience.
By this point, we know the routine of camp inside and out. We are finding our “tribe” (a benefit of larger camp communities is that there are more tribes with which we connect). We find that we have a surprising capacity in some activities we had not previously experienced. We are surprised to find that we have an eye for art or are really good at tennis. Perhaps we are acknowledged as the “blob queen” of Waterpark class or best shot in riflery. Our abilities are celebrated and our confidence builds. We find ourselves having long DEEPLY MEANINGFUL Conversations with new friends at surprising moments of the day.
We find ourselves anticipating each moment of camp life in different ways… what’s served at a meal; if we can remember the breakfast club joke punchline; around the world day in tennis; a big wind day at Putt Cove. As we anticipate, we talk and we find others sharing that interest. We make our guesses and are wildly exuberant if those guesses prove accurate. We start new fads, we learn new skills, make new friends, and find the hours FLY BY and we are shocked to realize that camp is almost over. Ten days marks the point of our experience when time shifts and we find days fly into weeks.
So we welcome this day with a delightful change in our routine. Challenge Day traditions (decorating the dining room, team colors worn by all, cheers before breakfast, coin toss, challenges given and accepted, good-natured competition all morning, a big softball game, and tug of war before lunch). We will all sleep at Rest Hour and pray for an afternoon shower to extend the downtime. Clubs might find attendance sparse today as we recover from our morning madness.
Thank you for reading!