A very successful maiden voyage.
Because it was our first camp experience, the preparation and planning was very involved, and there was a point where I wondered if it was even worth the effort. It all felt a little like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but pull a rabbit out of a hat we did!
And I feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride. But also, I remember why I adore being with kids so much, and I realized how much I've missed that fresh curiosity and lively energy. I remembered what a gift it is to be with youngsters.
Since my co-director and I have both been in the Montessori classroom, we wanted to bring some of that incredible freedom and creativity to the camp, but the only way that works is to be prepared for any and all potential "paths"--after all, we "follow the child".
That meant setting up the camp so that children could actively and comfortably function without a hovering adult. Indeed, we found ourselves during Individual Activity Time with nothing to do but sit in the beanbags in our library and observe!
How wonderful. Time and time again I am amazed at the usefulness of a Montessori background.
Our camp was on the small side: started with 6 campers, had 5 on Monday, and by Wednesday, down to 3 (2 went on vacation).
We had considered accepting up to 10 campers, but by Friday, it was clear that maybe 8 was a more practical number for our relatively small space. At times, 5 seemed very busy.
And what did we do?
Well, we made pinch pots, did lots of kid's yoga, make bug houses, read stories, painted, colored mandalas, and then skulls (for a unit on the body!), made "sea snails" for snack (for a unit on the ocean), made "safari juice" (for a unit on the jungle), counted goldfish crackers, played Mancala, printed designs on t-shirts, set up the tent and ran inside (chased by bears), blew bubbles, chalked on the sidewalk, painted with watercolors (ooooooo pretttttty), sang very silly songs, rolled up in our yoga mats like bugs in a rug, talked & talked & talked, went on a safari, learned how much salt is in a cubic foot of sea water, kept a daily weather chart, had a pizza party, and finally, said farewell to one another.
I handed out Forget-Me-Nots in pots that D had grown from seed.
And then we said our goodbyes.
Just like that, the kids had left and camp had come to a close.
My co-director left almost as soon as the kids did, off for a weekend with her family. And I stayed behind to put everything I had contributed back into bags and into the car, a full car load!
The House was suddenly so quiet, and had been returned to its usual calm space for meditation and Buddhist practice. With the exception of B's stuff that she will collect next week, there was little left of camp:
a few cellophane bugs hanging from light switches, a blob of clay on the walkway outdoors that was turning to mud in the rain, a trace of squashed grass where the tent had been.
It was a little sad packing up our camp, because the space had been so wonderfully transformed by our efforts and good feelings and laughter.
But we all made a toast, over Safari Juice and pizza, to enjoy the rest of the summer, to remember our friendships and maybe even to meet again next year!
Perhaps we will.