2014 SUMMER CAMP
Thanks so much to our many supporters for helping us make the 4th year of summer camp FANTASTIC! We met the 3rd week of July on Baldpate Mountain, Titusville, NJ. We had 10 campers in total, 8 new and 2 entering their 2nd RFR year. Three of our new campers were younger siblings of RFR's first camp week in 2011. They all were thrilled to be with us and said they have been waiting SO LONG to join this camp!
The weather was perfect, mid 80's and only one hot day. Since we were on the mountain earlier in the summer season, we took advantage of picking and eating wild raspberries. We hiked more than usual and drank in the beauty of the mountain. The campers were enthusiastic about everything. We started the week with our Full Value Contract, listing behaviors we want to demonstrate during our week together. We discussed creating a UTOPIA and defined it - "An imagined place or state of things in which everything is Perfect." That was our goal for the week.
We had four guest speakers: Dr. Sandy Barbo taught us about recognizing stress and how to combat it through breathing techniques, etc. She discussed mindfulness and had the children take part in a few exercises utilizing their imaginations and remaining mindful of the littlest of details. Jenny Hughes, a recent college grad in International Analysis & Conflict Resolution also joined us. She led a few games with the campers and staff which built on creativity, strategy and teamwork. Singer/Songwriter Ben Arnold was on the mountain, which was quite meaningful because he was also a speaker at our very first camp 3 years earlier! He helped in the kitchen during lunch prep with the math needed to triple recipes. He also spoke of songwriting and music. We had a guest "vulture" land on a nearby roof during Ben's discussion and the kids divided into groups and wrote down lyrics for a song titled, "A Vulture on the Roof." Check it out on Facebook! Sherry Hanck taught the campers yoga and shared many wisdoms of life on and off the mat.
We had three days of Emotional Intelligence lessons. We discussed the "Voices in our Head", such as "creative or self-doubt" and how they can be positive or negative. We worked together to figure out how to combat the negative voices and overcome them. We also addressed the uniqueness of each individual and how to celebrate our special self, in "Be Yourself."
Our craft for the week was an Altered Book. We rip out pages from a $1 book, leaving about 15-20 pages. We paint across the page, or leave certain sentences to create a journal/photo album of sorts. We embellish the book binding with paints, buttons, and any piece of art we choose. We will continue to work on our books throughout the year, until they are complete. Good friend and artist, Colleen Attara teaches this process at the Artists of Yardley.
I was particularly joyful this year to share the RFR experience with 2 out of 3 children of mine. Son, Jackson 19, joined the fun on songwriting day, and Alana 16, attended 3 days and was very involved in the Emotional Intelligence lessons. Alana was so moved by the campers, many new BFFs, that she plans to be a junior counselor throughout the year.
Early in the week, new camper Amaya 9, shared that she was "Sappy" during our Emotional Check In. It means, "I am happy to be here, but sad it has to end." Each of us was saddened at the conclusion of our special week. We did create a Utopia - full of learning, sharing and becoming our best selves. I tried to comfort the campers by saying this is only the beginning of our 2 year journey together, but I know what they meant. The special moments in nature, where we come together as one, in that perfect space, atop a mountain, where it doesn't seem likely anything will ever compare...
I continue to thank God for the many blessings I have received by working with these truly talented and inspiring young minds. Every year, guest speakers applaud these kids and repeatedly thank me for the experience. My soul is enriched by each and every camper, speaker and staff member. The unique qualities they bring individually creates a relationship like none other and I am
"For The Better."