For many, the acronym “NBTSC” represents more than simply a summer camp. As those new and old progress through each session, the week isn’t just enjoyed. Each individual’s “inner camper” begins to un-shackle itself as the struggles of life, growing up, and the past year diminish, releasing the truly free spirit all of us share. Experiences are branded in memory and deep friendships are formed; an open, non-judgmental space so rare back home allows campers to begin, or progress in, their journey to adulthood.
Because of the magnitude of camp’s influence on the lives of those who attend, it is easy to distill all that happens down to what truly affected oneself, and forget that just like any other summer camp, much more happens to build up to that point. The first couple days here at Camp Latgawa are filled with nervous introductions, awkward conversations, mental breakdowns when choosing where to sit during meal times, and self doubt about whether or not camp is the right place for you, and this happens to first years, second years, and more than likely a couple of experienced campers. Just keep in mind, like life itself, it only ever gets better.
Day three for me is the turning point when camp stresses cease to exist, and the true, raw experience begins to envelop my character. The morning hug number marks the beginning of our third day here at camp – after a taco bar breakfast, and a productive meeting with Xander and Evan leading us in song, announcements, and meditative quotes. As we break into advisee groups, I witness some newer, quieter campers engage more intimidating campers in conversation, and beginning to reach out to form the connections we all treasure here. In advisee we play games like hot-seat, reverse hot-seat, and whale watching. (If you are curious, just come to camp!)
In our first activity block, I attend Sophie’s organization workshop. On the porch of our small library, we pour over her extensive color coded notebook and take notes about ways to integrate her perfect neatness into our lives back home.
After, I head over to the lodge with some friends, and we embark on the quest with our guide Robin to learn the frustratingly difficult Charleston dance, followed by a more satisfyingly simple waltz lesson.
It is important to mention that if not already brought to your attention, workshops make up the essence of camp days, a personal favorite of mine being the dancing ones. If you are ever here and feel lost, or bored, simply check the schedule and show up to any of the dozens of workshops put on by campers and staff throughout the week.
Lunch follows, along with a relaxing siesta in which a group of us play on assorted instruments, and lazily discuss completely random topics with no clear direction or purpose. I hear mention of a secret activity only older campers are aware of. Meditation or something.
A quick dip in the pool wakes us up again, and the second half of our day commences. An activity I had been spotting since the first day was Camp Olympics, in reference to the current Olympics happening at the same time. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I show up in the archery field wearing my swimming trunks, still wet, and no shoes. Upon realizing the prize is chocolate, my interest is piqued even more. All that I can say that happened is I enjoy competition a little too much, and in the heat of the moment forgot to take any pictures, but the good news(to me) is I won three out of four events, and basked in the glory of victory I brought for cabin 6 while also nursing my newly bruised and scraped body.
Dinner comes soon enough, followed by check in, and our after meal meeting. I hear more mention of the amazing meditation session being prepared, and am more than ready for the chance to relax and take a break after a long day. Our second talent show, outdoors, is performed, and many campers show off for the first time talents nobody suspected. One attempted a push-up, and was cheered on by the entirety of camp to complete it, and others blew our minds with amazing solo and group songs and poems.
As the talent show wrapped up and we headed back to our cabins, I remembered about the meditation and went with some friends.
Simplest way to say this is, meditation apparently means rave at camp. And at camp, we really know how to rave.
Photo of Max by Dandy Denial. Remaining photos by Max.