My name is Cedar and I’m the Activities Team Coordinator this summer at Merrowvista. I met many of you as you came to drop off luggage and tested your reverse parking skills!
My team and I work hard to craft fun interest group activities that help campers learn new skills and more about themselves every day.
The last time I wrote for this blog, I gave parents from Session A a smattering of our interest groups that campers were experiencing (Link here: https://ayf.com/news-events/blog/july-11th-building-balanced-summer-interest-groups/)
I could give you details about more interest groups, as the ones in that blog account for only about a 5th of our offerings this summer; but I thought it would be interesting to pull back the curtain and to give you a sense of what goes on behind the scenes to make sure your campers get the best possible experience in their interest groups (IGs) each day.
Various parts of the planning process for interest groups begin many days, weeks, or months before they actually happen! Way back in early June, we were already creating lesson plans for each interest group we wanted to offer this summer to ensure that leaders were prepared to keep campers engaged, having fun, and growing in every interest group.
After creating effective lesson plans, we create sign-up sheets that campers fill out their first full day of camp.
Campers get to rank their top picks in the areas of Athletics, Arts and Crafts, Outdoor Adventure, Performing Arts, and Waterfront, and then put stars next to the activities they want more than any other ones across the board. Campers are encouraged to branch out, too, so they can try activities outside their comfort zone.
Once all the signup sheets have been collected, we count up all the activities that campers want to do the most and make sure to offer enough rotations of that IG so that all the campers who would like to try that activity can.
Then, while campers are at Opening Council, a dedicated mix of specialists from around camp come together to sign campers up for the interest groups they want the most, with each specialist working on a village they know personally to help advocate for their interests and help to correctly interpret any sheets that might be less legible. A grand human computer, assembled with a lot of planning and a little bit of Merrowvista Magic, is the key to this whole process.
Once all the signups are done for campers, we work to assign leaders who are passionate about teaching the different activities, as the best teachers are those who really love the things they are teaching about!
Once all this is done, off we buzz like bees in a hive, distributing attendance sheets to different areas of camp, and beautifully decorated sheets for the villages so campers can check what IGs they have the next few days.
This whole process takes extreme care, effort, and attention to detail on the part of many different parties, and has been honed and refined over many years of learning and striving for the most effective system possible to increase the opportunities for campers’ fun and growth.
The three things that Kris Light implores the campers to do when they leave the Eating Lodge each morning are to “Aspire Nobly, Adventure Daringly, and Serve Humbly,” and we offer activities that encourage campers and staff to do all three of these things each day. This is what best encapsulates what brought me to Merrowvista many years ago. The idea that over a hundred people would assemble for months to serve humbly and do everything in their power to give campers a positive experience and a place they feel safe to be their best selves is inspiring.
Signing off for now,