July 26th – When the Eating Lodge Runs Well…

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The camp runs well! That’s a saying we have here at Merrowvista. If you have never had the opportunity to enjoy dinner with 241 campers and 100 camp staff, you might not understand. But trust me – it’s true!

The Eating Lodge is where we gather as a community three times a day, every day. We begin by washing our hands, and then we gather around our tables with our villagemates to enjoy a family style meal. A camper shares a moment of gratitude followed by chimes, and while the chimes ring out the entire community pauses in silence to think about all that they are grateful for in that moment.

Next, the cruisers for each village bring the food to the tables.

Campers can wander to the breakfast or salad bar for extras, and there’s lots and lots of talking! We learn where the food on our tables came from, and are mindful about our portion size to reduce waste. Some meals have song challenges at the end – those are loud and raucous as what starts with one village singing turns into an entire community standing and singing (or shouting) along. There might be an announcement from the department of public affirmation (“doo do dooooooo”) or perhaps lost and found (“wah wah”). But what is guaranteed is that each set of meal announcements is a mini one-person show sure to entertain and inform!

In this home away from home, the campers set the tone. Campers are the ones that really make things happen. Cleaning up after meals starts with what, to the unexperienced eye, can look like chaos. Kids are surrounded by tables stacked with dirty dishes. But soon, the cruisers begin carrying dishes to the dish room where one lucky village has already started washing the dishes amidst a dance party. Cruisers sort cutlery and compost from ort, wiping off tables and sweeping as music streams from the dishroom. In those first few minutes, it seems impossible that the tables will be cleaned and the floor free of food.

But wait another 10 – 15 minutes and it is complete. Sure, a group of adults could probably have done it more efficiently. But instead we make space to allow the campers to complete the task in their own way, sometimes with a bit of prompting or redirecting from a staff person.

And then the room is quiet, the cruisers return to their villages.

The Eating Lodge is ready for the next meal, where our community will gather once again to be grateful, to be nourished, and to share in the care for the space and one another.

On this beautiful, golden day at Merrowvista we began and ended our day by celebrating being in a place where it’s safe to be our own, best self. Tri-Py village shared a bit about their unique own selves, and how even though they are different from one another they feel comfortable and accepted in their village. Whether they are loud or goofy or quiet or funny, they feel accepted.

From there we were off and running! We said “Aloha” to three more Four Trails groups – Nesuntabunt departed for a 10 day bike trip to Bar Harbor, ME, Shaw left for a 6 day hiking trip through the Mahoosucs in Maine, and Flag left for their 6 day canoe adventure beginning on the Magalloway River, through Lakes Umbagog and Aziscohos, and ending on the Androscoggin River.

The Discovers and Trailblazers have really settled into the routine of camp now. All began new interest groups this afternoon, with Dan Hole Pond buzzing. Villages enjoyed more cabin time activities, including paddle boarding across the cove for blueberry picking.

We ended our day similar to how we started, celebrating our own unique selves with a crazy dinner! Campers and staff dressed creatively, songs were sung all throughout the meal and we topped it off with ice cream sundaes.

Now, off to bed so we are ready for all the adventures tomorrow may hold!