Greetings from summer camp at the North Conway Community Center. We have passed the midway point of our program, a bittersweet milestone.
Our campers are settling into their routine and are bonding with the others in their “squad.” Campers and counselors alike have enjoyed the normalcy of being in a group setting.
Being able to see old friends again and getting to know new friends has been a welcomed change to the monotonous pace of this past spring. The laughter and joy has been a treat for all of us. Even the usual challenges that come along with summer camp give meaning to our experience as we watch our campers grow to be better friends, teammates, and members of this community we have built.
The quality of this experience is due to the incredible enthusiasm, patience, and hard work of our six counselors. Our counselors have set forth to complete a seemingly impossible task. We’ve asked them to bond the group together, but try to keep everyone at a distance. Counselors participate in activities to inspire campers to engage and have fun, but wear a mask over your face if you are indoors or up close, and facilitate hands-on activities to create an enriching experience, but make sure those campers’ hands are cleaned after every possible contamination.
These new rules felt nearly impossible in June, but the novelty of these restrictions has worn off and faded into the routine of the normal day-to-day. Campers can be heard finishing their counselors’ sentences. “Make sure you ... wash our hands when we go inside! We know, we know.” The counselors work tirelessly each day to ensure our campers are safe while facilitating a fun and inclusive environment.
The counselors for our kindergarten and first-grade group are Caitlin and Claire. Caitlin is the former Jackson Summer Camp coordinator and Claire went through the early childhood classes at Kennett. The two of them are the most kind, patient, and caring counselors we could imagine for our youngest campers. They are reflective and collaborative, conferring often on how to best adapt their routine and activities to meet the individual needs of their campers. Their calm and even approach ensures that our campers feel safe and welcome in the group. Their daily activities are fun and engaging with a great mix of autonomy and structure.
The counselors for our second- and third-grade group are Dominic and Jerry. Dominic and Jerry are returning counselors and have logged many years with us at the North Conway Community Center. This dynamic duo wakes up every day at 5 a.m. to work out before camp, so you can imagine they bring to the table a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. With their crew of imaginative and high-energy campers, they fill their days with active games (of which Dominic and Jerry always participate in) and open-ended crafts for maximum creativity. Both counselors bring their laughter and enthusiasm to the table, while being trustworthy and approachable mentors to their campers.
The counselors for our fourth- through seventh-grade group are Dawson and Liz. Dawson is a transplant counselor and lifeguard from Tin Mountain Camp. Liz is a transplant from Camp Huckins and Cranmore Snowsports School. We were very lucky to welcome them this year with their camps closed for the season. The two offer a dynamic variety of activities for our oldest campers. Their creativity is endless. They facilitated a giant “Rube Goldberg Machine” one rainy day and are known for their epic water games on hot days. The two are caring and thoughtful, working hard to build an inclusive community for their group.
This summer has been incredibly important for our campers and their families. While we are unsure what the school year will look like, we can be sure that these six weeks of summer camp will stand out as a shining light for our 24 campers when they look back to remember the pandemic of 2020.