Super Wacky Adventure Time
One of the best parts of camp is the traditions. You can count on gathering together around the campfire on Sunday night to worship in community. You can count on meals in the dining hall or cooked over the fire, but always shared together as a group so that you have a place at the table and a seat waiting for you. You can count on walking the Christwalk, listening to the bell ring across Deer Meadow, and taking the swim test before jumping into the deep end. These are part of the traditions of camp.
However, one of the things we also like to pride ourselves on is making sure that camp is always updating, growing, and changing. Kids who come back year after year can look forward to new programs, games, and facility improvements. We also want to look at the challenges that children and youth face and say, “How can we, as a camp, help meet them head on?”
One thing we have noticed as kids come through our gates is that they are increasingly scheduled. Every school day is planned. Every afternoon is filled with activities, sports, and lessons. Every week of the summer is dedicated to vacations, camps, summer programs, leagues, and tournaments. There is little time left just for free play, imagination, and exploration.
Of course, much of our summer camp program is scheduled as well. Kids enjoy the chance to come to camp and try kayaking, archery, or take a trip to the cave. But more and more, they crave that unstructured time to just play freely. That is why, this year, we introduced a new program called “Super Wacky Adventure Time” or SWAT for short. The idea behind SWAT was simple. We wanted to give kids the chance to dream and imagine. What did they want camp to be? What did they want to do? If given the freedom to do anything, to play anything, to be anything, what would they choose?
Maybe they wanted to hunt a dragon in the woods. Maybe they wanted to dress like Ninjas and create a warrior course. Maybe they wanted to conduct super wacky experiments, use all of the dress up clothes and host a dance, invite another group to a pool party, or play shaving cream whiffle ball in the meadow. The possibilities were endless. Counselors were there to ensure that ideas stayed safe, but campers had carte blanche to dream and imagine anything.
It was so fun to see all of the SWAT ideas. Campers filled an inflatable pool with Oobleck and walked on the “water.” Kids who were particularly into Minecraft and engineering built elaborate cardboard forts. Older campers made large slip ‘n slides and added color powder and shaving cream for extra fun. Some kids moved the 9-Square court to the pool. Drama campers had a disco party and fashion show. A group made up new games that could be played with our corcls in the pool.
SWAT was an overwhelming success this year. This is what we love about camp—the ability to let kids experience the traditions of camp, but to also play and dream and invent on their own. It is so important to listen to the needs of campers even as camp continues to be a sacred place for fun, activity, and learning. Sometimes, kids just need the chance to be crazy, wacky, free, and adventurous. We had a lot of fun offering that to them this summer, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with in the future.