We have begun, and we have begun well! Our buses left at 10:00 on the dot bringing excited campers to their new summer home. Counselors greeted the buses with excited anticipation. This was the moment they had been waiting for after a week long of meetings, role playing, and safety orientations. The kids were finally here and counselors were answering questions in rapid succession: “How will I find my bunk”, “My sister is on another bus, when will I see her?”, “How do I make my bed?”, “Does anyone know I’m allergic to soy and eggplant?”, “Where is the lake?” And the counselors had questions too…Where is everybody from?? What part of camp are you most excited about? Who wants to unpack and play Jamcam before dinner?
The first week of camp has flown by, as campers are settling into cabins and becoming fully engaged in camp life. They are not thinking so much now about their parents and pets they left at home, but have begun charting a new course for their summer at their new home away from home.
We have gotten so much done already…swim laps are being passed, talent auditions are being held, Big Brothers and Sisters have met, friendships have been formed. We had our Opening Firelight ceremonies, boys in the Overlook and Girls at Notches. We established goals for the summer, and welcomed everybody, new and old, as we sat around our roaring campfires. The girl’s firelight broke out into an impromptu dance party under the stars as we promised to hold each other in high regard, no matter where we came from before this first night of camp. For now we are all part of a big Birchmont family, with lots of fun in front of us everyday.
At Quiet Hour, Greg talked a bit about not being afraid to fail at camp. How simple and empowering it really is to change the mind set of “I Can’t” to “I Could if I…”. His examples seemed to resonate as campers began to realize that it’s true, “I Could If I” is a powerful little key to unlock the door of self-doubt so many children let get in their way of trying new things, or mastering new skills. Attitude is a young learner’s most precious resource, and for every door, you alone can hold the key. Try waterskiing, toss the ball high to serve, unfurl a sail, catch the fly ball, ride the horse, dance on the stage, hang from a harness and fly through the trees…Everything is here waiting for our campers to try. We have our first BBQ Dinner and DJ Social tonight and our trips start this week too. It’s been hot and hazy these past few days but nothing is melting but our ice cream.
Last night, I looked out onto the whole camp gathered at the waterfront to watch a spectacular waterskiing show at sunset on our lake. I thought, as I have so many times before, what a unique experience, what a gift this is to unwrap and savor and share. Charles Eliot, the President of Harvard has put it another way; he said, “The organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world”. We couldn’t agree more, and we’re so happy to be learning and loving our summer amidst the mountains, lake, fields and forests that are Camp Birchmont in New Hampshire.
This is natural for children but can be unnerving for parents…Here’s a good read which offers some practical suggestions to start off the summer on the right foot. We will also be discussing anxiety and homesickness with our counselors during Staff Orientation Week. It’s important to understand that not every child will come to camp raring to go; a little empathy and re-assurance can go a long way. Once children feel immediately welcomed and actively engaged, anxious feelings dissipate rather quickly.
Although this is our 30th summer directing, every summer feels like a new adventure. We are excited to begin another great camp Birchmont season!
Read the article:
How to clear the fear to make way for a formative experience
From: The Child Mind Institute
New Hampshire Summer Camp Memories
Do you love bug juice, ghost stories, toasted marshmallows and Color Wars? Then thank the Granite State, home to America’s first sleepaway camp.
BY DARREN GARNICK for NHMagazine.com
New Hampshire is best known as the first-in-the-nation state for the presidential primaries, but it is also the birthplace of America’s first overnight summer camp. In 1881, Dartmouth College dropout Ernest Balch bought Squam Lake’s Chocorua Island and created Camp Chocorua — aimed at the children of wealthy tourists visiting the White Mountains. His goal was to prevent as many rich kids as possible from becoming spoiled brats.
A recent exhibit at the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University put it this way: “Rather than let the self-indulgence of high society erode the character of these youth, Balch envisioned a different kind of resort; one where boys could find challenge, not champagne, canoes instead of crystal chandeliers, and an earthen bed instead of fine linen. He wanted the boys to learn self-governance, the value of money, and a strong work ethic while experiencing adventures like those portrayed in dime novels.”
Jon and Shuli Lubin
Lawyer (Jon) and Summer Camp Administrator (Shuli)
Camp counselors Jon and Shuli Lubin never expected to find love on Lake Wentworth.
While he was a camper for four seasons (1995-1998), Jon Lubin “always wanted to see what was behind the curtain.
“This certainly isn’t unique to Camp Birchmont, but when you’re a camper, you look up to your counselors as role models and they seem so cool to you. You wonder where they disappear to on their days off, what they do on their nights out,” he recalls.
Lubin fulfilled his goal, becoming a counselor and soccer specialist for two years before he disappeared to college. The summer of 2005, sandwiched between graduation (University of Pennsylvania) and his entry to law school (Yale Law), presented the opportunity for one last hurrah.
“I was 22 years old. My goals for returning to camp that summer were reuniting with old friends, making some new ones, and drinking every pint on the menu at Wolfe’s Tavern to earn my own pewter mug on that famous ceiling there,” Lubin says. “Birchmont gives staff members a lot of time off, which I think is healthy to recharge and refresh from what can be tiring days herding kids around.”
During those nights out, he quickly felt a connection with Shuli, the group leader for the 10-year-old girls’ cabins. “Sitting together on the camp bus turned into strolling down the streets of Portsmouth and Boston holding hands and eventually sharing our first kiss on the bus back to Wolfeboro,” reminisces Lubin.
Shuli was the leader of the 10-year-old girls group at Camp Birchmont.
“It was a crazy situation,” says Shuli Lubin, who previously worked at Birchmont’s sister camp, Pierce Country Day Camp on Long Island. “By the end of the summer, I knew this was the man I was going to marry. I didn’t go to camp to meet my husband, but it’s fitting that we met there because camp has been such a huge part of my life.”
The Lubins later got engaged under fireworks on the lake and married in 2009. Jon is a corporate lawyer for a private equity firm in Manhattan. Shuli is a camp office administrator for Pierce. Their daughters Brooke, 5, and Charlotte, 3, are destined in a few years to continue the family tradition in New Hampshire.
Lubin jokes that he almost sabotaged the fairy tale ending with a “Braveheart-like speech” at Birchmont’s farewell campfire in 2005. “I knew in my gut that this would be my last summer there for a while and possibly forever, so I wanted to go out with a bang. In a terrible Scottish accent, I urged the whole camp to rise up and resist the tyranny of the coach buses coming to take us all home the next day,” he remembers. “Fortunately, this didn’t give Shuli any second thoughts about our relationship.”
For the record, Lubin never did earn that pewter mug from Wolfe’s Tavern, but with two future campers on the way, there’s plenty of time to finish.
The late fall and early winter frequently mark the time of year that camps begin holding organized reunions or get-togethers for current campers. Among the lifelong benefits of attending overnight camps or teen programs are the incredible friendships that children and teens are able to make…