The first word that leaps to mind is chaos. There are more than two hundred kids milling about the gym, entertaining themselves with countless balls and hula hoops that tower over the younger ones. I wander amongst the horde of screaming tots and am very nearly beaned in the head a few times by errant balls. Eric is already here, religiously documenting every thrown ball, every jumping, laughing child, all the games each counselor has created for their groups.
A red ball rolls over near my feet. A tiny child of no more than six comes dashing over to retrieve it. I wave. After a moment's hesitation, he waves back. "Hi," he offers. "My name's James." Immediately after his introduction, he speeds off to play a peculiar sport he's devised with his friends that to the untrained eye consists largely of throwing balls and shrieking. I'm sure there are rules and regulations inapparent to me, but what they could possibly concern I can't imagine.
Erin Gorse, a newly graduated senior from Shady Side, has organized a game of tag, and each of her five-year-old charges considers himself a master, an undiscovered prodigy at the grueling art of professional tag. They dart and weave with unerring precision, tiny legs pumping faster than thought. As more and more children arrive, the tag group swells to absurd proportions, until three campers are designated "it" and the drumming of miniature feet on the floor becomes almost deafening.
Over in the other side of the gym, with the Camp Ren kids, a decidedly mature Knockout tournament is being held. I haven't played Knockout since eighth grade, and it seems exactly as productive and thrilling as it did then. For those unfamiliar with the general concept, the game consists of two kids in a mano-a-mano competition to make a foul shot first. These kids, casually ineffable and painfully aloof, regard the cacophony next door with mature disdain. Though many of them are Day Camp graduates, they look upon the younger children with eyes weary with age and experience. "I remember when we did that," recalls Brian, a new friend who seems eager to tell me precisely how much older (and wiser, mustn't forget wiser) he is now than a scant twelve months prior, when he gleefully hulaed and bounced with the best of them. "It's just like, act your age, you know? I'm not five anymore. I'm gonna be in seventh grade next year."
The rest of the day is a blur of greetings, new faces, and assistance rendered to lost families. Shady Side has one of the nicest campuses of any educational institution I've ever seen, but the multiple buildings and various activities contained therein can confuse newcomers. A twelve-year-old, shaggy-haired, grinning, asks where to go for lacrosse. "It's in Croft commons," he tells me. Ah, Croft. My home for four years, the dormitory I loved, the ancient brick oven (no air conditioning in Croft) in which I spent many sweaty September nights wishing for either death or a box fan. I jump at the chance to take him in just so I can feel it again. I miss it more than I can say. I walk him in and leave promptly. It's hard to walk out the door. It's not as bad as it was the last day of my senior year, when I signed HOME in the space next to my name in the logbook for the last time, but a pang of nostalgia flickers in me like a spark from a dying campfire.
As I step into the bright and the warm of the sun above, I stand a little straighter and breathe deep. I'm home again. I'm back where I belong, where I grew up, where I made my closest friends and even fell in love once. I have an entire summer of possibility right in front of me, and I can make Shady Side a place of good memories for as many kids as I like.
on Tuesday June 19, 2012 at 03:02PM
Amazing Counselors! the schedule proudly crows. It's not a superhero team exactly; from nine till ten today though, seven experienced counselors are answering any and all questions we can pose. These best and brightest read out notecards that we members of the audience have filled out with our queries, and on the spot respond with what they would do in each hypothetical. Questions vary wildly with subject, ranging from a "fecally contaminated pool" to how to best handle simple homesickness. Each notecard gets a lengthy and detailed reply, and if ever one of the panelists struggles to explain himself, a faculty member jumps in with assistance. I write quietly and munch my bagel.
"What do we do if we're lonely and we don't have any counselor friends?" This comes on the heels of the homesickness question. Immediately, Eric Lewis, a member of the Shady Side class of 2010 and perhaps the friendliest person in the known universe, responds, "I'll be your friend!" He looks so thrilled at the prospect you can't help but believe him. I knew Eric while I was a student, and he's always cheery and helpful. I've never seen him interact with kids before, but he strikes you as the kind of guy who would take to it like a duck to water. He's asked what to do in case of a storm. "Well, if it starts raining pretty hard, you should get inside, if you see any lightning, get inside... um, if you hear thunder, go inside... basically, just go inside." He makes good sense.
Enough is enough, though, and after the final questions are addressed we're released to lunch. It's just as bustling and energetic as it was the day before. Everyone is either happy to see someone they've missed over the school year or glad to make a new friend.
After lunch we stroll out to the quad. I've been out here for perhaps three minutes when a plastic circle flies dangerously close to my face. Of course. It's Shady Side, and the sun is out. It must be a frisbee.
Frisbee has been a part of my Shady Side experience ever since freshman year, when I played midnight Ultimate on the quad with Lucas Herman, a senior then. He showed me the proper form and technique, and I fell in love with the sport almost immediately. I played casually until I was a senior, then made the jump to the big leagues, the Spring Team, Shady Side's elite cadre of frisbee all-stars. Now, I'm getting flashbacks to my senior year as I watch a disc float over a defender into the waiting hands of the reciever. Eric and I share an envious glance. He and I played on the Spring Team two years ago. He's fast, accurate, jumps like a grasshopper, and has yet to be out of breath in my presence. I can throw really far. Together, we tear up the field.
It's all we can do to restrain ourselves; frisbee, once in your blood, sings to you in an enchanting voice every sunny day of the rest of your life. I cave first, dashing after a long throw (or "huck" to those in the know) and snagging it with one hand. A flick of the wrist, and the disc spins lazily away to whomever feels inclined to catch it. It's almost addictively fun. It's a matter of moments before an actual game starts, with teams being thrown together willy-nilly with no regard to aptitude. This is what frisbee is all about. Really, it's what camp is all about. All are welcome to play, all play hard and long, all laugh at unexpected successes and comical failures. We don't even keep score.
on Thursday June 14, 2012 at 04:57PM
Well, today I was late. Strictly speaking it wasn't my fault; I took the right bus, it just went in exactly the wrong direction. By the time I arrived, we were doing skits. The first few were comically cruel. Wildly exaggerated accounts of inter-staff relationships, accepting gifts from campers, forced swimming despite crippling stomachaches, and even a particularly disturbing rendition of a counselor flirting with a camper were laughed off the stage. Each skit was followed by a sobering discussion of why exactly not to do what had just been acted out. To his credit, Nate remained just as peppy when warning us against ignoring campers as he had been yesterday during introductions.
Many of my friends from Shady Side have taken jobs here this summer, and all of them are happy to see each other. Watching them make fools of themselves in their skits is hilarious, and as each group models terrible behaviors for us to avoid, the applause and laughter grow proportionally to how ridiculous the situations are.
A senior friend of mine, Peter Donahue, explains the proper and the improper way to deal with bullying; rather than this, he says, socking another counselor squarely in the stomach, try talking it out.
As we turn to discussing day-to-day interactions with campers, Chottiner tells us all about his past years, and it's all he can do to contain his excitement. He dismisses us for lunch with a final warning: above all, this is a place for fun for the kids. We must do everything we can to ensure it's an enjoyable and a pleasant environment for every member of camp.
At lunch, everyone finds a table within moments. Old friends welcome over new faces, but I remain aloof with the camp photographer Eric. He and I have been instructed to observe and report, and we do so with all the vim we can muster. It's a lonely duty, but a higher calling, we tell each other. We are the recorders of history, the guardians of the past, and not pretentious about our roles at all, we swear, you guys.
It's funny how quickly new friend groups are formed. I see a skinny towheaded boy look around with a vaguely panicked look on his face as he realizes he doesn't know where to sit. Two tables beckon loudly to him to come sit, but he remains awkwardly undecided until finally choosing one at random. He's met with a cheer and a brief round of applause when he puts down his tray.
As Eric and I finish lunch, a Canadian named Cam joins us and asks if we have room for one more. I tell him it's a private journalist's meeting and that he's not welcome, and could he leave his food please? We're hungry. He's not quite sure I'm kidding until Eric gestures for him to sit with a smile. Cam is a nice guy. He tells us about Canada at first, and then asks about us, where we're from, what we do at camp, and seems genuinely interested in the answers. We chat amiably for a few minutes, and then it's time for Eric and me to find Chottiner. As I leave, I look for the lost boy I saw earlier. He's laughing with his new friends as though he's known them for years. This is a good place.
We walk back to Memorial Hall slowly, full of good food and enjoying the sun on our upturned faces. Most of the staff that beat us there is busily filling in last-minute paperwork. After we quiet down, Chottiner reviews the five aspects we want to bring out in the children we work with this summer. Creativity, Autonomy, Resilience, Empathy, and of course, a Sense Of Community. Someone realizes that a handy mnemonic for these is CARES, but Weiss vocally prefers SCARE, if for no other reason than the shock value.
After we go over the principles and their percieved meanings one last time, we're free, and another day of orientation has drawn to a close. Eric and I have hijacked a room in our performing arts center, the Hillman building, and we set it up as a media haven, with his shiny new laptop as the centerpiece. My tiny netbook looks pitiful in comparison, but his is undeniably better for photo editing, which we begin as soon as the door closes behind us. He's prolific and talented, and we must look through nearly two hundred shots before we have to get going. I think there's a smiling face in every one.
on Wednesday June 13, 2012 at 02:54PM
As soon as I walk in I can tell this will be fun. I meet the dicrector, Nate, and he grins broadly, claps my hand in his, and asks me how the heck I am. I'm a little taken aback at his unabashed enthusiasm, but it's infectious, and though I'm the first one here, nearly twenty minutes early, I don't feel awkward. Nate's good humor and personable nature spread to the few people trickling in through the open double doors, and in the space of ten minutes, the Kountz Theatre is transformed from an empty room into the tamest cocktail party you've ever seen. Instead of drinking dry martinis, the staff nibble on Panera bagels, still warm from the oven, and discuss potential camp activities instead of gossip. I just sit back and watch. My name is Henry Klein, and I have the great good luck to be this year's blogger for Camp Ren and Day Camp Discovery, which means I take photos of cute kids doing fun things and then write about the fun they had. For now, though, it's all head counselors, all friends from years past, all with inside jokes and memories of summers spent doing what they love.
The babble of good-natured chatter dips slightly when Mr. Weiss walks in. This is partially out of respect -no one who's ever met Matt Weiss could help but respect the man- but also everyone, absolutely everyone, wants to say hi. I knew him as my Ultimate Frisbee coach my freshman year, something of a comic genius by my sophomore year, and had had him as my superbly verbose, riotously clever US History teacher when I was a junior. Here, it seems, he is just as popular as on the frisbee pitch. It's for a similar reason; just as Weiss led our team to a flawless 0-10 losing season my senior year by example, showing us how to be sportsmanlike himself, he has a charisma and a passion for education that rubs off on all his co-workers. He gets so enthused it simply multiplies. And as the final few come shyly in, fearing reprimand for their lateness, he's made the whole room even more excited just by being there.
We sit in a circle and introduce ourselves. As an icebreaker, we add a memorable theatrical experience. Amazingly, everyone seems to have one. Most are dryly self-deprecating, and a few fall flat, but we all do feel a little closer at the end of it. It helps to laugh at yourself. Belts are loosened as the last bagels disappear, and then it's down to business. Well, sort of. David Chottiner, the mastermind behind all that is camp-related at the Academy, wants us to play charades.
I volunteer. We're given a hint: they're all qualities we want to embody at camp. I'm given the word "Empathy." Really? I'm baffled at first, but then I turn to my new friend Vince, the Outdoors Experience instructor. We go fourth of five, and he mimes stubbing his toe as I, tearful at his hammy distress, embrace him deeply to show I feel his pain. A dead silence at first, then a few tentative guesses both hopeful (Compassion?) and ironic (Pain!). Finally, Weiss says sympathy, and after a pleading glance he alters it and lets us get off stage.
The five concepts, creativity, autonomy, resilience, empathy, and sense of community, are written in five-inch letters on a whiteboard, and we discuss what each means to us. I get an unexpected round of applause after I mention the parallels I draw between camp life, which I have never experienced, and the boarding program at Shady Side, which I enjoyed for all four of my years at the senior school. The brotherhood, I tell the group, that I felt with the boys in my dorm was the best part of my Shady Side career. If they can make school that enriching and fulfilling, I must be incredibly lucky to be a part of the camp program.
What strikes me most as unique about this group of people is their joy in this adventure. They thrill to the idea of making some kid's summer a special one. They do this not for the pay or the extra line on their resume. This summer is all about finding new ways to make learning fun, helping a child understand something new and letting him feel proud of it, taking familiar concepts and adding a level of discovery and excitement to them. I get to work with these people. I get to write about them and share what they do with anyone who cares to read about it. And I get an hour for lunch? Yeah, this summer is going to be fun.
on Tuesday June 12, 2012 at 02:23PM
"Do I have to be happy about the end of camp, or can I be sad even though it's a party?" one camper asked early this morning.
I can't believe that these six weeks have passed already. It seems like just yesterday I arrived at staff orientation. How is it possible that Monday we won't be watching campers arrive in the gym?
Today was certainly bittersweet, as the camper above alluded. Today it has been fun to see campers all together in the same place, but at the same time, I couldn't get the thought that this was the last day out of my head.
"The best part about today is the free refills on punch," one camper with a huge pink-punch mustache said.
"No silly!" another retorted. "The best part is the all day party!"
This Place About to Blow [sic]
In the gym there was so much to do! The favorite seemed to be the blow-up bouncy relay race. Campers had to scramble up walls, under tubes, and through holes, ending the entire relay with a giant leap from the top of the tower.
Kids always beat counselors during the relay--they were quicker and better at squeezing their way through the small spaces. I'm pretty sure they've also had more practice (recently, at least) on bouncy games.
The gym also hosted two other blow-up games: soccer and basketball challenges.
I saw nothing but enormous grins as campers shouted over each other to decide who would win each game. In the end, there were no real winners and loser, just friends having fun.
It was such a cool way to celebrate the summer.
Along with the giant blow-up games, Counselor Pam offered kids smaller stuff: balloon art!
Pam has been hiding her amazing secret talent from Camp the whole summer. I am so happy she finally told us all--it was worth the secrecy and the wait.
I stood transfixed at her stand. She blew up, twisted, tied, hooked, pushed and pulled balloons of all sizes into amazing animals and shapes.
In less than a minute she could outfit a child with any plastic plaything of their choice. Campers skittered away holding their balloons and showing them off to all of their friends.
Counselor Relay Race
The tee shirt relay race is a Camp classic. Day Camp Discovery counselors got together for a relay race of epic proportions! Thirty counselors sprinted back and forth through the water and traded their wet shirt with another swimmer on their team.
The team of counselors that finally won the long, and excitingly close, race was the team that streamlined their tee shirt passing style. The two counselors passing the shirt would grab hands, and their teammates would flip the soggy shirt from one to the other. It was genius!
Campers screamed for their favorite counselors, and chanted their squad cheers the entire time. Two hundred campers screaming in the pool was a sight to see (and definitely a sound to hear)!
Camp Ren spent their last day of Camp at Moraine State Park, a park an hour away with a huge lake. Moraine is beautiful--it boasts miles of hikes, bike paths, wilderness, and an endless supply of water fun.
Campers spent their time biking, swimming, hiking, and hanging out with the friends they've made all summer long. It was a day to just chillax.
It was sad to watch the campers leave camp. Hugs were exchanged, tears were shed, and friends promised to keep in touch!
I have few words to sum up moments of goodbye like this, so I'll leave this blog with lyrics that have ushered me into the future time and time again:
"As we go on, we remember All the times we had together And as our lives change, come whatever We will still be, friends forever"
Have a great summer! Thanks for making Camp 2011 the best summer yet!
Camp Ren campers have been planning their carnival with Business Specialists for quite some time, and it showed! Campers have gone above and beyond the normal carnival booths, and completely blew me and Day Campers away!
The carnival featured a ton of exciting games. One, called Plinko, had campers drop a ball in the game. The ball ricocheted against the pegs and bounced throughout until it landed at the bottom of the board to tell what prize campers would win. What made the game so impressive was that a Ren Camper made the Plinko board himself!
Day Campers had a great time, spending their tickets on games that almost always gave them candy (to counselors' delight, I'm sure)! My favorite was the obsacle course. It was so cute to watch the Chipmunks cluelessly race against each other for the final prize.
To The Moon, Alice
The rocket launch was a blast! Literally! (Forgive me my puns.)
In all seriousness, this was the culmination of Science this summer. Campers have been hard at work creating their very own rockets the last two weeks. Today two squads had the opportunity to launch them.
Under a hot, grey sky, campers marched across the perfectly manicured lawn to the launching pad. As they got closer, I heard them boasting constantly about how much their rockets rocked. When Science Specialists told me that the rockets would fly 500 feet in the air, and campers bragged about how high their rockets would go, I did not understand what they meant.
What they meant was that rockets would fly into the clouds and land places far from us, never to be found again. They shot into the sky and, time and again, were lost among the clouds. How amazing!
Venture Outdoors brought their amazing climbing wall to Camp today! Campers were given the opportunity to scramble up the difficult rock patterns towards the sky. I was constantly impressed by their strength and quickness! Some campers seemed to run up the sides of the tower, not even noticing it was vertical.
Camper Annabelle, the last camper on the wall, was especially impressive. Taking her time, Annabelle struggled to make progress upwards. She carefully picked her way up the rock face, and, at the three-quarter mark, lost her grip and fell! Catching herself, she started back up the tower, only to find herself slipping groundward again. Even after the second backward step, Annabelle grabbed the rocks to try again. She had endless perseverance!
The Art Gallery
Art Director Missy and her many minions have been scrambling to set up the final camper art show. Tonight campers will be able to show their parents the artwork they have been working so hard to make all summer long!
Along with the Gallery will be a Film Festival, also highlighting some of the best camper-made films of the summer.
Campers, staff, and parents will get together for the Family Picnic tonight. It is bound to be a really great time with popcorn, games, movies, and free ice cream!
Although advertised as Extreme Makeover, what occurred on Monday was far more than just a makeover (even an extreme one). What actually happened was a mix of Extreme Makeover, drag show, fashion runway, and Don't Forget the Lyrics competition.
When I arrived on the scene, counselors were being dressed by their squad. Male counselors were outfitted with fake chests, and long dresses, and female counselors were caked with bright-colored makeup. It was a sight for sore eyes.
The actual show had two parts: the first was the fashion portion. Counselors had to strut their stuff in front of the whole camp. Next counselors sang karaoke for their rowdy audience. Counselors sang classics like "Do, Re, Me" and "My Humps."
Let's not forget that this was a competition. The winner, Counselor Jared, won for his amazing rendition of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy." Badly roller skating around the Black Box while singing in a high-pitched falsetto, Jared blew us all away.
The unexpected show made my week, and it was only Monday!
One of Art Director Missy's many talents (along with dry humor, and fashion sense) is screen printing. Missy let campers in on the secrets today. Campers learned a quick and dirty method to printing fabric.
They first sketched designs of their own creation on newspaper, and next cut them out. Placing the newspaper cut outs on fabric, Missy helped campers settle the silk screen and then squeegee their paint, making sure all parts were coated.
When campers were finished with the paint, their screen print was done! Fast and easy. Campers printed so many colorful designs, but one of my absolute favorites was Camper Laura's. She made a design that featured two people working together to create a large structure. One the side, in really cool lettering, it said "we build."
Campers' prints were so amazing, I asked if I could make one too. I was excited to create three patches for some holey jeans!
During Choice Time, Missy helped campers sew up their projects from last week. Campers had batiked and tie-dyed squares of fabric in cool patterns.
Now their patterns are stuffed and sewn up! Campers grinned while displaying their unique pillows. All are brightly colored, perfect for accenting a couch, and all are soft and cuddly.
I was impressed by their eye for color, and their excellent execution of their pillow designs!
Camp Ren's Got Talent!
I was quickly awoken from the afternoon haze when the Camp Ren talent show began. Our two emcees cracked jokes that got the audience going.
We were serenaded by three pianists, all who played with great precision and emotion. I loved hearing the classic 'Memories' from Cats played beautifully on the piano. The comedic I talked so highly of earlier in the week was back with more of his great humor. Finally, two singers gave their hearts to the audience.
After the talent portion of the show, there was a decades battle! Squads drew decades (50s through 90s) from a hat earlier in the week. They dressed up and choreographed a number to music from the period. They were energetic, had crazy dance moves, and rocked the house!
Finally, it was time for the three Camp Ren Idol winners to take their turns at the mike. Sierra sang 'Man in the Mirror,' Michael performed 'Back to Black' as a tribute to Amy Winehouse, and Nina belted out 'Jar of Hearts.'
These campers have an amazing amount of courage to get up in front of a whole theater full of their peers to bring their talent to the stage. There is nowhere they could be more supported than right here at SSA Summer Programs. Campers were cheering, shouting, and so happy that their fellow campers were showing their abilities on stage.
I am constantly surprised and awed by the strength and raw talent all of our campers have, and today was certainly no different.
Day Campers have been working hard on their movie trailers for over a week. Kids have spent their time in Media Arts brainstorming, writing scripts, filming, editing, and now showing their final cuts!
I was lucky enough to get a peak at a few campers' trailers. Campers seem to be well versed in the art of non sequiturs. Their lack of predictability and sequential plot makes for extremely ridiculous, and often times hilarious, films.
I wish I could find some words for the films I saw, but I am lost in nonsensical silence, happily.*
*see Théâtre de l'Absurde for further explanation.
Rauh on Rauh
Ren Campers sat in the seats of the Richard E. Rauh Theatre (in the Hillman) gazing at Richard E. Rauh talking about a film clip just played (staring Richard E. Rauh). It was a surreal experience.
Richard E. Rauh kept it real. As a Professor of Film at Point Park and Carnegie Mellon Universities, Rauh has seen all sides of the film industry. His lecture consisted in a series of clips of his work, followed by explanations of the ins and outs of the filming and acting process.
"I think it's a really lousy movie, I really do," was heard after nearly every clip. Acting seems to be a story of failure. Somehow, through it all, actors keep trying.
At the end of Rauh's lecture of the gritty reality of acting, I was surprised to be left with this message: "It can be a lot of fun. I really recommend it, if you like acting."
All that Glitters is Not Gold
For the second day in Glitter 'n Glue Palooza, Specialist Carrie really let the glue and glitter fly! I could not tear myself away from the bright and shiny objects--they were so sequin incrusted! I felt like a fly at a light bulb. Campers seemed to share my feelings--overjoyed to produce these fantastical glitter scenes.
"They came, they glittered, they conquered," Carrie said after the day was done.
Survivor: Camp Ren
Three squads, renamed De Sol, Infestation, and Poison Ivy for this challenge, competed for title of Survivor. Outdoor Adventure Specialist Kaeleen has been advertising this competition all session--even going so far as to create a filmed commercial!
I was excited to get to witness the fierce contest. Campers ran through SSA's wilderness to follow clues to find their tribe's flag. Campers had to physically exert themselves to find bags of puzzle pieces with clues attached, use their logic to decipher clues, and skillfully assemble their puzzle to find the compass direction that would lead them to their flag.
Poison Ivy, with great speed and cunning, was the Survivor of this afternoon! One tribe member could be heard telling other campers, strangely, "don't scratch your itches."
Today was the exciting launch of Arts and Crafts Specialist Carrie's fantastically messy Glitter 'n Glue Palooza! Carrie has been getting campers excited about this week all summer long.
With facial expressions screaming "icky!" campers grabbed sticky glued string and started their projects. Campers are making glitter string disco balls!
By wrapping the glittery gluey string around balloons, the string has a shape to hang on to. When the glue dries, campers will pop their balloons and be left with disco balls cooler than all of their parents' bell-bottomed memories.
Sneaking into ceramics, I found campers serenely glazing their fired projects. They chose from a vast array of colors to make their clay creations technicolored.
Some campers were painting their coil pots crazy colors and designs, making the heavy pieces come to life. Other Ren kids used the colors to make their kneeling unicorns more believable. The group's counselor was painstakingly painting a donut--with sprinkles!
Using bright colors, a duo with an eye for fashion was glazing the inside of bowls different (but complementary) colors than the outside. I think I'll follow their lead on my own pots!
Ceramics Instructor Lucas flitted about the studio, helping campers here and there, and making room for more and more camper-made ceramics. The kiln will be full tonight!
Takin' Care of Business
Ren squads in Business are busy preparing for the carnival taking place this Thursday. I sat in on Celebrity Circus' planning meeting this morning.
This squad is planning to man four booths. They have really interesting ideas--things that I would never have thought of! Talented campers will be doing all the body art in a face painting and temporary tattoo booth. Another group will sell tickets for the chance to throw a pie in a counselor's face--always a huge hit.
This squad's last two booths require skill! Campers can choose to participate in a hunt for a skittle that will be buried in a pile of whipped cream. Easy? No way! Campers will only be allowed to use their face to search. I am excited to see Day Campers get messy! Lastly, campers will be able to race through a treacherously difficult obstacle course.
Talent Show Preview
Along with the blowout end-of-summer theme is Spotlight's Talent Show. The show will take place in front of all of Camp Ren, and is a really big deal!
Today campers gave Spotlight Director Lindsay a sneak peak at what they will be doing. Using my press pass, I got in as well!
If you didn't already know, SSA campers are a talented bunch. These kids blew me away with their complete lack of stage fright, and immense and unique abilities.
The small audience was shocked and awed by the hula hooping wonder girl, the nimble-fingered pianist that held the whole room captive with her beautiful melody, and the hilarious jokes from our audacious emcees.
One of my favorite talents was a stand up bit by a camper, soon to be famous comedian. With jokes like "the TSA worker asked me if I had any bombs in my bag. I said, 'what do you need?'" how could he not be?
Pic(k) of the Day
Photographer Cassie captured this precious moment during 'Museum,' a camp favorite. This game is styled after the movie 'Night at the Museum.' Any camper-statues that move while the night guard watches them are out! It makes for funny poses, and a ton of giggles.
I'm off to check out Extreme Makeover: Counselor Edition. Stay tuned for before and after pictures.
Today was a blast at camp! I can't wait to see these campers next week.
Today I stumbled upon the oldest Day Campers in Spotlight. To even get on the stage and start their period, they had to dance! Some campers shamelessly grooved, while others sheepishly waved their hands.
Campers were writing plays today. The period was dedicated to brainstorming stories, casting parts, writing down their lines, and beginning rehearsals.
In every play, campers killed off nearly their entire cast! Instructors steered them away from violence, and helped campers make sensical story lines.
I can't wait to see the finished products next week!
During Choice Time, Ren campers had the opportunity to play with clay in film! Not much was different between the campers' plays in spotlight and the stop motion films campers made in film--they were all about killing!
One camper was working on a story of a clay person who has a scuffle with a clay scorpion, and then shoots out black blood. Watching the story take life was interesting.
To do stop motion animation, film makers move their figures a tiny bit in each frame. In the person-scorpion film, the camper added a little bit of blood in each picture he took. When the pictures are played in sequence, it will look like the person is really oozing black blood. Icky!
Campers loved working on their claymation the whole period--some didn't want to leave, even for lunch!
Some Robins, young Day Campers, were making kites in Outdoor Adventure today! Specialists taught campers how to fold their paper, place the supports, and tie their strings to make small but beautiful kites.
One camper finished making his kite, and ran through the hallway of the Hillman trying to send it skyward. Satisfied with the results, and a bit winded, the camper sat back down with his group and started decorating his new creation.
Campers got to use markers and stickers of all kinds to customize their kites. They carefully covered their kites with foam sea creature stickers, shiny vibrantly colored smiley face stickers, and whimsically swirling marker designs.
Campers will have a ton of fun with them this weekend!
I'm heading to Day Camp's Squadstravaganza! Read about it in the SSA Newsletter coming to your mailbox this weekend!