July 11th – Building a Balanced Summer through Interest Groups

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As the Activities Team Coordinator, I spend most of my time in the background working with my team to make sure campers get to try out the activities they want and have a variety of interest groups that will help them grow and have fun. I thought it would be fun to give all the folks at home a taste of some of the more unique interest groups that campers have had access to so far this summer:

Gaga Ball (Athletics)

This year at Merrowvista’s Volunteer Weekend, alumni, campers, and friends came together to build a Gaga pit for Merrowvista. Previously we had been using six collapsible tables arranged into a hexagon. If you’ve never been exposed to Gaga ball, imagine Four Square mixed with dodgeball and a lot of fun!

Yoga (Athletics)

Campers learn some yoga poses, but unlike a yoga studio where you’re in the same place every day, our campers often find beautiful spots in the meadow, in the Bahn, or in the Yurt to keep it interesting and fresh.

Mod Podge (Arts and Crafts)

Campers create (often quite intricate) collages using magazines, newspapers, photos, and a few coats of Mod Podge. Unlike your run-of-the-mill collaging experience, these collages might adorn the back of a journal, a bench seat, a village sign, or a pet rock!

Sculpey Clay (Arts and Crafts)

Carefully, meticulously, campers craft tiny animals, ice cream cones, or whatever else they can imagine out of clay that can be baked at the low temps reached in a toaster oven!

Climbing (Outdoor Adventure)

New this year; campers are getting to set and name their own routes at our outdoor climbing tower, and are learning more about our climbing systems, gaining skills in knot tying and evaluating the safety of a climbing system!

Ninja Training (Outdoor Adventure)

This interest group starts with campers playing games based around stealth and cunning. It ends with them using these skills for good, hiding notes of encouragement and kindness for others around camp.

Arguing for Fun (Performing Arts)

Campers debate fun topics with their friends. Which is better: Cheese or butter? Campers decide! And then must defend their position in a number of debate-based games!

Staff Impersonation (Performing Arts)

Campers gather information, spy on, and impersonate various MV leaders and staff in this interest group. Last year, three of our staff were replaced by campers from this interest group for a week before we noticed. (Disclaimer: not actually true [It was only two days])

Guardians of the Garden (Serve Humbly)

In this interest group, campers learn about all the plants growing in MV’s herb garden, how to identify them and care for them! Campers also get to help create some basic teas and recipes using the plants from the garden.

Zen and the art of Bicycle Maintenance (Serve Humbly)

New this year; campers get to work with leaders and bike mechanics to gain valuable skills and knowledge about fixing many types of bike problems, bike sizing and riding techniques, and prepare for their time as a 4-trails camper.

Of course we also have a whole litany of other interest groups, but I think the ideas at play in a few of the ones mentioned above capture what I love about this place and helping to coordinate all these activities. Merrowvista is a place where anyone, camper or staff, can have a great idea for an activity, and we can help make that idea into a reality that enriches not just their experience but the experience of everyone else around them.

Signing off for now,


A-Team Coordinator