Words for Wednesday by Jess Jones

Vespers Session 3 2015

I love camp because…

  • When the weathers bad I get to build a rain cave in my outside bedroom.
  • No one can agree if The Sleeping Indian has a body or not.
  • All it takes to get Kevin O’Shay Shay to stay for 6 weeks is to remind him he doesn’t want to leave.
  • The most romantic song we play at dances is four Non-Blondes “what’s up”… and it is usually celebrated with bromantic couples dances.
  • On French Dip lunch day I get to yell “Friendship Day” at everyone I pass. And Butterfly Briggs usually gets me an extra.
  • The time moves faster, but means more. When we look back it feels like we arrived yesterday, but have known the friends we’ve made our entire lives.
  • Some how these two weeks remain extraordinarily important all year long.
  • Even more than all that I love that I get to spend this time with the JC’s. My kids are some of the greats.
  • I love that Ryan never says what you expect. He is always surprise. And his creations are a too. Just ask Taylor to show you her JC Christmas guitar.
  • I love a lot of things about Butterfly Briggs… Also known as Jonathan. But what has stood out most this summer is his desire to help. He has a heart for improving the lives of those around him… even through just small acts of kindness.
  • Kevin O’Shay has been here so many sessions you would think I’d run out of things to say about him… but not quite yet. I love how motivated Kevin is. In order to stay this session he has to get some serious school work done in his free time. He has certainly taken that challenge, and what is more impressive is that I can see how that motivation comes out in him at activities as well.
  • I love Trevor’s sense of humor. He has an understand subtle sense of humor that is all the funnier because you don’t always know he joking at first. He brings that postive energy with him everywhere he goes.
  • Pierce is an insanely charismatic person. He is just plain like able. With that comes Pierce’s ability to connect with people. He is so good at creating relationships with people. He knows how to make others feel their best. I love that about him.
  • Julia has a lot to love… noteable note… her laugh is incredible. But more than that I love Julia’s independence. She is fiercely independent. But she doesn’t push others away, she shares that strength with those around her and they are certainly better for knowing her.
  • I love Karen’s flexibility. I know that she can handle anything we through at her. She has the kind of personality that can make anything fun and the creative mind to get there with little direction. I think she could make an amazing activity happen if we gave her a pile of rocks as materials.
  • I love that Jonah is different than me… and we somehow manage to stay close. It takes a special kind of person to inherently value differences. People who are different are often scary or confusing but Jonah doesn’t have to find the good when faced with diversity. she just understands that those differences are valuable. Even if it means a bit more work to maintain a relationship.
  • I think the thing I love most about Taylor is how much she reminds me of a toasted marshmellow. Overall she is genuinely sweet but she has this shell and while not unpleasant there is some structure to Taylor’s persona when you first meet her. She is a professional Coppercreeker for sure. But when you get passed the surface you get to see how gooey she is on the inside. Kind, and goofy; loving and supportive.
  • I have had Emily in my cabin for a few years now, and I love that. It seems like every time we talk I learn something new about her. This session I have learned that Emily is not perfect. In the best possible way. She is learning to not only accept her imperfections but to celebrate them. And I am so glad. There is so much to celebrate about you.
  • I love this place. I love this group. We are a family and I can’t wait to spend another week together.

Why Traditional Summer Camp and Why Coppercreek? A repost from a year ago.

Group singing together at Vespers

by Becky Hogland, Coppercreek Owner and Director

I have been spending my summers at camp since 1992 and have 2 wonderful daughters, age 12 and nearly 5 who now join my husband Craig and I every summer.  As a Mom, I know how much pressure we as parents are under to do the “right” thing for our children.  We can spend our days filled with anxiety.  Is this the “right” preschool?  The “right” elementary school?  Does my child need academic enrichment in the summer?  Should I put them on the traveling club volleyball team?  And on and on it goes.  We quite simply want to give our kids every opportunity we can and are so bombarded with different ways to provide these opportunities, it is difficult to know which way to turn.  My Uncle always described it as “collecting keys” to open a door which we may come upon during our adult life, and  we are under increasing pressure to make sure our kids not only have keys, but have the “right” keys.  So, where does a Traditional Summer Camp and more specifically Coppercreek fit in to the world our kids live in now?   So many families see the camp experience as simply a time of fun and friends.  In actuality, the social and emotional growth of children is REALLY what camp is about, and the activities and fun are just the vehicle we use.

Friends

The Coppercreek Camp experience offers some very real, very necessary benefits our kids can’t get elsewhere.  Among these important benefits are independence, the confidence which comes from being part of a supportive, inclusive, multi-generational community, and the life at the pace of nature that our busy, technology soaked kids need.

Learning to halter and bridle a horse.

As Michael Thompson, Ph.D, child psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Raising Cain and Homesick and Happy says in his article Sending Kids to Summer Camp (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-thompson-phd/sending-kids-to-summer-camp_b_1539726.html) “Does an overnight camp experience still make sense in this competitive, resume-building world? From this psychologist’s point of view, the answer is a resounding YES. I believe that children develop in profound ways when they leave their parents’ house and join a camp community.  Learning to sleep away from home is, of course, a critical step on the way to independence.”  Helping our kids gain independence is a critical part of childhood and one of our most important and most elusive tasks as parents.  Our kids can only develop independence by being away from us and making decisions on their own.

Trek  teamwork in Catacomb Cave

Coppercreek offers a warm, supportive environment to start children down the road.  As Michael Thompson notes, “Children don’t develop because they are pushed and prodded and pressured to develop. Children don’t develop because of town teams or because their parents prepare them to go to a “good” college. Growing up is what kids do, because development is their biological and psychological imperative. It is the job of adults to create environments where they have the time and freedom and safety to grow up at their own pace.”  Coppercreek is exactly that environment.

Kayak instruction

Some of the things we hear most from our campers is “I could really be myself at Coppercreek Camp” and “I felt confident to try new things.”  Why is Coppercreek a place where campers feel confident to be themselves and try new things?  One of critical reasons  is that Coppercreek is essentially a non-competitive environment.  Our campers are encouraged to try their best and we celebrate their accomplishments.  We never compare one camper’s accomplishments to another.  Each child is growing and developing and learning at their pace.  In The Case Against Competition (http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/tcac.htm) in Working Mother Magazine, author and lecturer Alfie Kohn notes,  “One study demonstrated conclusively that competitive children were less empathetic than others; another study showed that competitive children were less generous.

Total fun

Cooperation, on the other hand, is marvelously successful at helping children to communicate effectively, to trust in others and to accept those who are different from themselves.”  Coppercreek Camp provides an environment where campers must work together and cooperate for the cabin and the community to thrive.  From this spirit of living and working together and cooperating comes acceptance and trust of ALL of the members of the Coppercreek community and a chance for campers to feel confident “being themselves” and “trying new things”.

Zipline

Last, but not least, Coppercreek provides campers the opportunity to slow down the pace of life, live, work and play in a multi-generational community and experience the wonder of the natural world.  Michael Thompson notes in Home Away From Home (http://www.campparents.org/homeaway ) of summer camp that he “re-discovered a fantastic lost world of family traditions. A world where people sit down and eat three meals together every day, serving their food from platters and talking with one another throughout the meal. A world where ten-year-olds set the table for dinner and take all the dishes back to the kitchen when the meal is finished, without complaint. A world where thirteen-year-old boys don’t play video games every night, nor do they watch TV or sit in front of computers. Instead, they lie on their beds and read comic books and novels. In this world, I saw eleven-year-old girls walking together and holding hands as they walked back to their cabins. Right out in the open. No girls there send mean instant messages to one another; they don’t I.M. at all. Instead, they sing. When they are making their beds (yes, they make their beds every morning) and sweeping out their rooms, they sing together. First one starts to sing a song, and then the others join in, spontaneously. There is no adult leading them.

Family meal

I saw a world where nineteen and twenty-year-old young men spend hours of time swimming and diving and kayaking with eleven-year-old boys, and they all seem to enjoy it equally. When the swimming is over, the boys hang out with the young men and ask them questions. They also walked to dinner together, sometimes with the smaller boys hugging and hanging on the bigger boys, who don’t tease them or act annoyed. Even more amazing, at the end of each evening, the young men, the twenty-year-olds, sit with older men in their fifties and sixties and listen to them tell stories about their lives. The young ones aren’t sarcastic or dismissive the way that television sitcoms suggest they are supposed to be. They seem eager to learn from their elders, night after night. And at the end of the night, they all sing, boys and young men and old men, all together around a campfire.  When I visited a camp for a week, some forty years since I had last attended one myself, I was struck hard by how rarely I see children engage in these activities anywhere else: not in schools, not in neighborhoods, not in families. It made me wonder if summer camps are one of the last places that kids can learn the so-called “family values” that hard-pressed families no longer have the time to teach.  I was struck by the fact that a summer camp seems to provide something that is in short supply in our fast-paced worlds: respect for ritual, time for the generations to get to know one another, and of course, the opportunity to take a nap or read a comic book after lunch every day.”

A little alone time

I believe wholeheartedly in Coppercreek and the value of a traditional summer camp experience.  My Middle School daughter’s homeroom teacher mentioned today that she is a joy in class because she has a confidence and self-assurance that is increasingly rare in a Middle School kid.   I had to give credit where it is due; Coppercreek Camp is doing a great job raising our kids.  Craig and I are very grateful.  Now we just need to decide about the club volleyball team…..

Trek at Lava Beds

Vespers’ share from Grace Daverson

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They say memories fade with time

But I don’t think so

because the weeks I spend

riding, swimming, talking, walking,

petting, reading, playing and dreaming

Here. Right here.

Those memories are as deep and crisp as the taste of a way too juicy watermelon at Outpost

And the smell of fur and feathers at smanimals

And the chunka, chunka, chunka of a kneeboard at the lake

And the sound of outdated music at way too early in the morning

and the sight of all the counselors, campers, of all my friends, dressed in grass skirts and

leis and lipstick, even the boys.

Here. Right here.

Those memories are as dear to me as

a cherished book of song.

Because I know that no matter how

tired, sore, or terrified I am,

I have not wasted a second of my life

Here. Right here.

-Grace Daverson

What Camp Means To Me- Anna and Jonah

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Getting to spend 2 weeks with friends who live on the other side of the world.

Coming to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Trying out things that I never would have had the opportunity or means to do elsewhere.

Being able to be silly and weird and not be judged.

Becoming best friends with people you have known for just a couple of days, who are completely different from your friend at home.

Telling camp jokes at home that no one understands.

Spending 11 months waiting for the 1 we get to spend here.

Waiting for seconds, thirds and fourths just for those pieces of bread with butter.

Praying to be sent to the lake every morning.

Bug spray is second only to water.

Dirt lines are as common as tan lines.

It will always be our HOME AWAY FROM HOME.