July 25th – Warming Up in the Canaan Valley

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Hello everyone! My name is Bailey and I am the Assistant Director of Camp Programs here at Merrowvista. If you are a parent of one of the wonderful campers here right now, there is a very good chance we have e-mailed sometime during the year. I am at Merrowvista all year planning for summer, and I’m so glad it is finally here!

Today was the first regular schedule day of the one week session, meaning we had a full day of activities. The rising bell rang for Go-Getters at 7:30am, and campers ran to the Farmhouse or Waterfront to go swimming, running, play soccer or tag games. After that, the Voyageur co-ed village shared some things they’ve learned over the years they’ve been at Merrowvista for Flag Raising, and the whole community spent time reflecting together before breakfast. After enjoying breakfast bread, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and yogurt for our first meal of the day, campers returned to their cabins for some KCISP (Keep Camp In Shape Please!) time.

Next up were Interest Groups, the daily activities we enjoy each day. Interest Group activities are focused around helping campers build new skills that they can carry out of here. The sense of accomplishment campers feel when earning their skippers license, reaching the top of the rock climbing tower, or building their own stool in the wood shop serves as a starting point for many lifelong hobbies. During this round of Interest Groups, campers are sewing pillows, learning outdoor survival skills, learning to use their senses and identify plants in the garden, taking swimming lessons, and making friendship bracelets, among a long list of other activities.

After the two morning Interest Groups and lunch (grilled cheese, soup, and salad), campers went back to their cabins for some Easy Time where we encourage them to write letters home and take naps to recharge for the afternoon. Even the most active campers can get worn out from long camp days, so our Health Team is adamant that there is an hour and a half of unstructured relaxation time each day to keep our community well rested and healthy.

Easy Time is followed by Village Fun Time, and Discoverer Campers spend that time bonding and playing with their villagemates through a variety of activities. Today, Whitecap, Mahoosuc, and Lincoln villages got the chance to hike to the Ledge, Merrowvista’s closest and favorite hiking destination. The Ledge looks over all of Merrowvista, and these villages got to spend three hours enjoying the mile long hike and view from the top.

This afternoon brought the third and fourth Interest Groups. Another goal we have for these activities is balance – no camper will spend the entire day playing basketball or making friendship bracelets during their time here. To sign up, campers are given a list of activities broken up based on activity area (athletics, waterfront, arts & crafts, outdoor adventure, and performing arts). They rank each activity in the different categories and place stars on their sheet to represent the activities they are most eager to participate in. They must place stars in at least three different activity areas, ensuring they get some variety in their days. After that, the Activities Team pours over their signup sheets, trying to get each camper their perfect, most balanced day of activities.

After Taco Tuesday dinner, Trailblazers and Discoverers went separate ways for Night’s Doings. In the Meadow, the Discoverers hunted for gold while trying to elude the gold-hoarding bandits. When caught by bandits, campers were asked to sing a song, do a dance, or give someone a compliment before running off to find more gold. A scavenger hunt took the 4-week Trailblazers all over camp, from the Arts & Crafts cabin to the Waterfront, searching for clues and working together to solve them. The final clue led them back to their villages for a fire and s’mores under the starry night sky.

As I write this, villages are brushing their teeth and gathering for Village Insight, an opportunity to have honest conversations about what they want out of their summer here at Merrowvista and how their villagemates can best support them. With tired legs and minds, we are all heading toward our pillows, knowing that tomorrow will be full of new learning and even more fun.