Staff Orientation Day 2 (Vermont ~ by Brenna McBroom)

We’re busy getting ready to welcome our campers to Farm & Wilderness. This is a guest post by Advisor Brenna McBroom.


For me, the main challenge of camp in Vermont is the weather. We’re essentially sleeping outdoors in rustic, three walled cabins, and the temperatures can drop to below freezing some nights. There have been years when it’s rained during our entire stay here, and I was reminded of what a particular challenge that is yesterday, as we spent the entire day in a cold, damp, fog. Last night I wrapped a pair of leggings around my face so that only my nose was exposed and curled up inside my sleeping bag. I slept hard through the night and popped my head out this morning to the sound of the breakfast bell and a view of clear blue skies. The weather report for the next week looks good and the campers will start arriving in about 24 hours. I feel so glad to be here.

Day two of staff orientation is always crammed full of logistical meetings, and there were plenty of those today, but I also had enough free time to walk down to the dock and lay in the sun, as well as have several nice conversations with fellow staffers. A big highlight from the day was the long advisor meeting, during which we were trained in how to use the low ropes course and spent time swapping ideas for group games and other sweet advisee activities. Staff orientation is always a little strange: it feels like too few of us inhabiting such a large space, taking a few last moments of quiet to prepare for the coming onslaught of campers. There’s an anticipatory feeling in the air, but also an “I’m not quite ready for them to get here” feeling as we make final preparations and query each other for last minute pieces of advice on how best to show up fully, offer meaningful mentorship and guidance, make it on time to all of our workshops, meetings, and other obligations, and still manage to sleep enough and practice self care.

Another highlight from today was an afternoon meeting spent sitting in a circle in the grass, talking about the idea of consent and the ways in which we want to model, practice, and talk about it during this camp session. It’s always a treat have the opportunity to engage in an in depth discussion with other camp staffers; I’m always struck by the variety of perspectives and experiences present and the ways in which we find common ground. Today I ended the meeting feeling the way I usually do: like we are more than the sum of our parts, and like we are collectively able to give voice to a more complete and nuanced perspective about a topic than any one of us would be able to do individually.

Tonight we have one last long meeting, and then most of us will probably spend some time catching up with one another in the kitchen: talking about what we’ve been up to in the past year, swapping jokes, learning card tricks, and just generally connecting and hanging out. We’re all waiting impatiently for the arrival of the campers, who are the only reason we’re here in the first place.