By Anna Bilton, Summer Camp Director
Many of you will know I spent a few summer’s away from Camp Mason before my return for Summer 2023. And let me tell you, I’m glad I came back! Summer Camp is still awesome! Here are some of my favorite re-discoveries about summer at Camp Mason.
There is no fun like camp fun!
Now, this is no surprise because we all know camp is supposed to be fun – talk about stating the obvious! Bear with me though, I’m talking about next level fun, the kind where you laugh so hard your face muscles hurt by the end of the day and no one blinks when you walk into the dining hall dressed like a LEGO character! The kind where a skit at campfire has 300 people of all ages in stitches and where a game of dodgeball requires a zombie invasion and neon face paint.
Daily life outside of camp is busy, and often hectic. To see kids and staff relax into camp life, embrace silly activities and songs, and laugh together without hesitation is a joy. Our pressure-free environment gives kids room to feel comfortable in their own skin and thrive. Camp is a safe space for self expression, different ways of thinking and good old fashioned fun!
New ideas and tradition go hand in hand at summer camp
Our world is ever changing and there is always something new to eat, try and experience out there. It’s not always easy to balance the old and the new, but at camp we have it down pat.
Staff and campers brought new ideas and activities to camp this summer that brought lots of joy (and laughs)! Consider the diabolo for example, where a camp counselor taught their skills to campers who then went home, shared their excitement with their friends and family and continued practicing. Or this summer’s paper airplane academy, Barbie night or Skyview Village LARPing afternoons, all new ideas that gave campers space to play, learn and enjoy themselves.
What I love about Camp Mason is that all of these different things sit so well alongside the old school offers like archery, campfire songs, nature hikes and canoeing on the lake. There’s a perfect blend of the old and the new on the schedule. There is something for every person, time and mood at camp. We keep old traditions alive and try new things each and every day too.
I know that I personally benefitted from a summer in the woods surrounded by natural beauty, as did my own children. Their curiousity about the natural world blossomed and they loved the freedom of running without the need to cross a road, stop for traffic or being out of sight.
And then there’s the next level power of nature that blows me away every time, such as the camper who found a calm in their surroundings at camp to focus in a way they find impossible in a school classroom. Or the camper who had lost a close family member in the past year and was finally able to pause, away from the noise of day to day life and come to terms with their emotions on an adventure trip. The calm of the river gave them room to think, breathe, feel ready to talk and start the healing process.
There are plenty of other stories like this from the summer where campers and staff members grew at camp, in no small part because of the magic of being in outside in a natural environment.
The power of people
From listening to the news most days you’d be hard pressed to discover the good in people and it’s easy to forget that people are amazing! It doesn’t take long when you walk onto camp to remember this. From the staff team culture to our campers and their families, camp reminds you that people are inherently good. It starts with a warm welcome on opening day and doesn’t stop all session long! Sometimes it is the small things, like a teenage camper reaching a ball out of a tree for one our youngest. Or a camper offering their spot in a full activity to someone who hasn’t had a turn to try it yet. And at other times it’s huge such as a camper contorting another and offering support when life throws them a tough hand.
Our community is kind, inclusive and positive. We look forward, and yet take the time for us all to learn and understand as we move. it’s rare to find a place like this, and I for one am thankful it exists. Now, if only those world leaders would take note!
Learning never stops
This wasn’t my first summer, and thankfully it won’t be my last. Yet, I still learned a lot over the season and so did our year round team, seasonal staff and campers. I walked away with some exciting ideas and strategies to try for next summer and am ready to do it all again, armed with the knowledge we gained in 2023. Each summer we add something new and tweak things to continually improve. As we register campers, hire our team and plan the schedule for Summer Camp 2024, we remember the achievements and lessons learned from previous summers. This way, we build strong and give campers their best summer each and every year!