Camp is officially kicked off at Merrowvista!

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MV Opening Council 2019

It’s July 3rd, and the Canaan Valley is buzzing with the ALL of the energy that the start of camp brings! In true New England fashion, a surprise rain rolled through on Opening Day. Sure enough, the campers made it in smoothly and the Eating Lodge was at full capacity for our very first pasta feast together. That first day always tends to bring the most excitement (and the most nervousness!), and our staff and campers harnessed that spirit into an action-packed few days. We kicked off the session with a council celebration, hearing songs from each village and our awesome new Director, Lauren, speak around the fire about what’s in store for us this summer and how to access our best. It was truly special to gather together and have each voice contribute to the community, as the campers will this summer!

The following day includes some housekeeping, like swim and health assessments for each camper and LOTS of orienting to the ways we make life work at Merrowvista. But once we got through those, the activities were up and running! We’re now into the regular daily schedule, where the kids choose their activities throughout the day and get to try all of the new and classic games our staff crafted. After today, every single Four Trails village will be out on the rivers, trails, and roadways of this region and Canada. It was a heavy load of prep, but our campers took on the challenge with a smile that makes me so excited to hear about their adventures out on their trips! It’s hard to describe the happiness that the sound of these campers’ laughter, stories and introducing their own selves to this community brings. It’s all around us here in camp and leaving in the Four Trails vans off to their destinations!

After spending two + weeks with this staff, setting intentions of how we’re going to empower these kids to make this summer theirs, it’s finally happening! We hope to use this blog to update the greater AYF and Merrowvista community on how that is playing out this summer. It’s unique to every year, as we welcome new people, and welcome back people who have grown and found new depths of their best. What’s been consistent in my experience, has been all those folks’ commitment to making the most out of this time. I believe the real benefits of our work this summer will be seen later, when the campers leave here with tools for overcoming struggles, making connections and bringing their own lights to their homes. Still, the beginning of the camp experience is probably my favorite! This is where the self-exploration starts. I’m already impressed with the positivity that this particular group has brought, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll create at Merrowvista this summer.

We’ll have more report-outs on the way. Enjoy this season of joy and vitality, we sure will too! Thank you from the bottom of our founder hearts for sharing your children with this community and supporting the AYF in our efforts to inspire best-self living.


All the best,

Shelby Witheford