Vermont 2017 – Departure Day, by Logistics Coordinator Margie

No matter how much sleep I get the night before, departure days from camp always feel a bit blurry and wild to me. This year I even woke up early to get a head start on my tasks, and I still felt a bit behind schedule by the time campers were up and about.

I think part of why the day is so intense is that it combines physical and logistical work with the painful, emotional work of ending our camp time together. One second a camper is asking me for help stuffing their sleeping bag or understanding their plane ticket, and the next they’re crying and hugging me goodbye. It’s a roller coaster.

Simultaneous to all these goodbyes, there are also a number of hellos and introductions as we meet the parents of the wonderful young people we’ve spent the last week with. I’d never been to the Vermont session of NBTSC before this year, and the opportunity to meet so many campers’ parents was a delightful difference between this site and our Oregon locations, where most campers travel by plane or train.

After the last of the campers head home, we launch into a long series of staff meetings that culminates in a sweet and teary appreciation circle. We finish site clean-up (mostly done by the junior staff––thank you!) and then say our good-byes to one another.

Luckily, most of our staff is headed to a rented cabin for two nights of relaxation and connection together (we call it, informally, the “Staff Nap”). This is not an official NBTSC event, but it does feel like an important aspect of the camp staffing experience to me––some time to decompress with one another after a week of hard and fast-paced work. This year we play a lot of Codenames, do a lot of napping, and save time for plenty of hanging out by the wood stove. Action-packed.

I’m writing this blog post from Rutland, Vermont, two days after the end of camp. The rest of the staff left for their various destinations this morning, and I’m about to enjoy 9 days of camping in Vermont. After staffing the entire season of Not Back to School Camp this year, I feel joyful, inspired, and exhausted. I’m looking forward to some nights of quiet, reflection, and hopefully some of that fabled fall foliage we missed due to the unusual heat at our Vermont session this year.

Thanks to everyone who was part of another fabulous season of Not Back to School Camp!

Vermont 2017 Day 7, by culminating camper Maddy

I woke up to a knock on my cabin door and soft ukulele music. I headed over to the lodge for breakfast. Over breakfast, I sat with newfound friends and talked about what we were excited for in the upcoming days.

Later in the day I led a music appreciation workshop with my friend Tallis. I attended one at one of the West Coast camp sessions this year, and I loved it so much that I decided to bring it to Vermont! We encouraged everyone to bring a song on their phone and then we listened to them together. It was really fun and a great way to find new music.

Immediately after that I went to a workshop where we swam across the lake. It was a hot day, so the near 1 mile swim was well worth it just to cool down.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxing. I made some new friends, wrote some letters, called my family and took a nap. After my nap, I had dinner, went to evening meeting and then started to get ready for the evening event – Prom!

Prom was super fun! “The Four Elements” was our theme this year. Each corner of
the room was decorated to one of the elements: Earth, air, fire and water. The
decorations, music and snacks were all awesome. I had a really great time. I pretty much spent my entire night dancing, which is an ideal night to me! After prom ended, I stayed up pretty late playing games with some other campers. As I started to get sleepier, I decided it was time to wander back to my cabin for the night.

Vermont 2017 Day 3, by camper Kestral

On day three we’re awoken by Joey’s lovely serenade on the guitar. We all scramble to dress, stumble outside to the kybos to brush our teeth at the outside water spigot. Then we climb the hill to the main lodge where breakfast is waiting: pancakes, cantaloupe and applesauce.

After several mandatory events we go to our various projects, mine being outdoor games. Lunch follows in a frenzy of long lines, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hungry campers.

As a first-year camper who is also doing a work trade I was worried that I would do something wrong at my work shift: either show up late, forget to come entirely or in some way fail. But the culture of camp is so welcoming, inclusive and open that as soon as 1:45 rolled around all my worries evaporated and I was overwhelmed by the enticing smell of fresh baked bread and melted cheese. After 25 minutes I was free to go sit with my new friends and enjoy lunch.

Here at camp we have giant cuddle piles, lots of hugs and a whole lot of friends, so I had quickly adjusted to camp life by day three.


((Day 3 photos to come soon.))

Vermont 2017 Day 2, by camper Valentina.

Waking up to quiet, live music is definitely my favorite way to wake up. It’s calming and yet you know that if someone is playing music, quiet hours are over, and if quiet hours are over, breakfast is soon, and if breakfast is soon, you realize that you’re hungry.


So it was on day 2 for me. I had to choose between the cozy warmth of my sleeping bag and the promise of some sort of food. Food won out, but not quickly enough that I was anywhere but the back of the food line. (I did get food in the end.)


Later in the day, we had the first project slot. I had decided on “Play In The Field” with Christian. There was a lot of running and slamming crates into other crates (carefully, I swear!) and everyone got quite hot. I rolled up my pants, drank copious amounts of water, and played every game thrown my way.


Also on that day was my workshop, which had a higher turnout than expected. There was some great conversation and great questions and it was a successful gathering. Having people come to your workshop is one of the best feelings at camp. You know that they came because they’re interested in whatever your idea was, and that’s very fulfilling.

After my workshop I had to hurry over to the staff healthy sexuality panel, which is probably one of my favorite conversations of the entire week. Both years that I’ve been here there have been interesting and useful questions and answers and stories and I’ve always come away fascinated.

Finally, the evening activity was Bonding Night, which is really wonderful. The best part for me is the anonymous hugs. There’s so much trust given by closing your eyes and just standing there while people come to hug you, and everyone takes that trust and hugs you so carefully and so well. It’s sweet and calming.

Vermont 2017 Day 1, by camper Alanzo


I started my day off early, full of energy and raring to go even though I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. I started with a healthy breakfast followed by the morning check in and meeting. The meeting lasted all morning, and was followed by getting together in our advisee groups. Advisee groups are when about 10 or so campers meet with a member of the staff and check in to make sure every thing is going alright. The advisee groups are a great way to get comfortable with more campers and campers you wouldn’t normally approach.


All the first-time campers got together and met with the final year campers––the culminators as they are called––for lunch, which was followed by the daily siesta. Siesta is a great time to nap or play acoustic music and just take a break and relax in general.

After siesta we attended a mandatory workshop (one of few) about consent and boundaries. This was followed by dinner and the evening meeting. The evening meeting is for camper announcements and for staff to make any announcements.


The staff introduction and talent show came after dinner, also after dinner was the project explanations. Projects are where campers will get together with a staff member to do anything from talk about nutrition and snack, to play in the field, to talk about how to create and maintain a meaningful life.

After all this was wrapped up we were free until the morning. I went and relaxed in the rec lodge with a bunch of people I had met over the day. We finished the night with lots of cuddles and I got a solid night of sleep.