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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vermont 2017 Day 1, by camper Alanzo

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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.

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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.

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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.

Vermont 2017 arrival day, by camper Xenon.

I’m kneeling in front of a railing, drops of water splashing periodically onto my hand. With each drop, a little more dirt clears from the small rubber ring between my fingertips.  I brush the dirt along as best I can.  On the railing rest several more items—a twisted, rusty nail, a black ukulele pick, a slab of plaster of unknown origin.  Each of them has been methodically wetted and scoured, the earth cleared from its niches: a separation of unnatural and natural, discovered and covering, dirt and detritus.  A shrine to the found item.

And this is all I’m doing.  Right now, the single point of impact in the universe, the sole recipient of my undivided concentration, is this microcosm of dripping faucet and small object.

Because this is Not Back to School Camp.

And here at NBTSC, if you want to spend an hour cleaning tiny things in the least efficient manner possible, or half an hour fishing pens and ceramic shards out of a grate with a stick and a pad of duct tape, or fifteen minutes carving a piece of rubber into the outline of a bat, well, that’s what you’re going to do.  Or, at least, that’s what I’m going to do.

I arrived at camp a day early, and now inhabit a little eddy of stasis between a staff body bustling to get the place ready—you have not witnessed true thinly-veiled panic until you have seen junior counselors two hours before camp—and the influx of campers I know is impending.  Yes, in this moment, nothing and no one has any higher plan for me than this.

And then the moment passes.

Flash forward, and I’m treebound, sprinting across a shaggy lawn as the first of my fellows trickle in from the forgotten outside world.  Who are they? What do they want? What even happens outside this simple place? I reach the tree (you know the one) and catch the first branch, which a thousand cutoff-jean legs have smoothed to the texture of old leather, and swing my body up.  In less than ten second I’m up, high enough for a good view, concealed enough for an inconspicuous one.

And here they come.

All fifty-three of them, in ones and twos and sixes, from every corner of the country and four dozen different backgrounds, and it would be overwhelming, except—except that I know them all.

Sure, I’ve never met more than a few of them in my life, and sure, there’s no one I’d approach on the street with a greeting in my eyes—but I know them.

There are bandanas.  There are army jackets.  There are sneakers and Doc Martens and Converse and combat boots.  There are hoodies and rainbows, jeans and knee-socks, fingerless gloves and a million different duffels, and the hair! Every teenage haircut, and a few more besides, is present here in a glorious array of individuality and exploration.  It’s enough to build a sociology thesis on.  And maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the place, (maybe it’s Maybelline,) maybe I’m just giddy with height and adrenaline—but every person here  looks like they’re home.  And if they’re home here, and I’m home here, well.

I look forward to this week.

Heaven help anything that stands in our way.

 

Vermont 2017 Staff Orientation

It’s lovely to be back on Tamarack Farm. The trees have just begun to turn and the site staff this year are absolutely charming. Most of our staff this year are retuning to camp in a brand new role and a third of the staff are coming to this site for the very first time. Plus there are two staff babies running around which just brightens up the whole feeling –- they spent a good 5 minutes handing back and forth flowers, which brought our meeting to a halt. They’re becoming fast friends, making everyone’s hearts melt.

Our orientation is shorter than in previous years, giving us a little less time to settle in before campers arrive. Luckily nothing happened aside from meetings. The food is wonderful as always, and we have a new (and may I say fabulous) kitchen coordinator. Despite being only 20 of us running around, they’ve provided us with all the comfort food we could ask for.

The in-between meeting times are the best. The ones where people are swimming in the lake for the first time this season. Where people are sitting and telling old stories in the kitchen about camps past. Where board games are happening and music is being played in the background. The all around atmosphere is just cool and calm and ready for the coming week. We’re all so excited.

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Staff touring the site before campers arrive –– check out that 3rd floor bunk bed!

The day that campers arrive there’s still so much to be done. Signs to be put up, last minute meetings to be had. Running around getting everything all the way ready and set. When the first new campers arrive all stress and hesitation any of us have washes away, and here we are.

All our love,
Zalis & Tella (Talis & Zella)

Post-Camp Wrap (Myrtlewood 2017) ~ by Logistics Coordinator Margie Sanderson

It’s hard to believe it was just a week ago that we were together at camp! Settling back into the “real world” makes that time seem so long ago. It almost already feels like it should be time to go back again!

This was our 22nd year at Camp Myrtlewood, and you can feel the way that NBTSC is settled into this site. From the trees and the creek, the kitchen and the cabins, to simply the air–the whole place just feels like camp. What a magical two weeks we had together there! At this session this year we were joined by 52 campers and 17 staff with, collectively, over 100 years of experience staffing at NBTSC. We sang as a whole group over 30 times, snapped 203 photos at the prom fashion show, consumed 144 grilled cheese sandwiches (thank you, kitchen staff!), climbed up and down the giant coast redwood 20 times at least…and so much more!

To wrap it all up, I’ve collected a number of different anecdotes and photos to remember the session by. Highlights from the session include….

“The biggest highlight of session 2 for me is always some sort of spontaneous kitchen dance party. This year a camper came in while I was actively making 72 grilled cheese sandwiches and asked if they could play their music. I said yes and we all ended up dancing around the kitchen until dinner was ready. It was so much fun!”–Staffer Janie H.

“When Blake bought me vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup on my last day of camp [editor’s note: Alli unexpectedly had to leave camp early due to a personal matter] because I was so sad about going home early, and June said that it was my favorite.”–Camper Alli L.

“Watching people so excited and proud after learning how to break a board in Emily’s Taekwondo workshop. Also the art at the art show blew me away.”–Staffer Maya T.

“I love how the river beach became such a hub of activity this session. We swam and sang and held meetings there, skipped stones and watched the frogs and newts and crawdads. We smoothed the sand over so we could count the deer hoof prints the next morning.”–Staffer June K.

“Sharing tea with some campers and Oliver on the tea stump next to the bridge over Myrtle Creek.”–Staffer Jay D.

“Even though the smoke dampened the session, I had some really nice, intimate, one on one conversations in the Bear cave while we were trying to stay out of the smoke. Teaching partner dancing to people who’ve never done it previous to the session, but at the end of the session, they were dancing like pros.”–Camper Iris P.

stay tuned for more highlights! 

 

 

Day 13 (Myrtlewood 2017, by camper Erich I)

I slept outside, which was surprisingly pleasant, not too cold and lots of fresh air, although I did not get to see any stars due to the smoke. Still worth it.
Later that day there was a “taking camp home with you” panel by the culminators.
Camp clean-up was uneventful, although I never did find out what happened to Ruby’s ray in a bucket. [Editor’s note: this was an expand-in-water toy ray that was started at the beginning of camp and faced an unknown fate at the end.]

After clean up me, Dan, Kiley and Miriel had a very enjoyable conversation about Hayao Miyazaki films.

The time between cabin clean up and closing ceremony was uneventful but enjoyable nonetheless.
Closing ceremony was very moving and full of love. I really enjoyed hearing all of the culmination speeches, brought a bit of tears to my eyes. All in all it felt very final as it was my last closing ceremony. I’m glad I got to say goodbye to everyone that way. Afterwards was very relaxing, lots of hugs and small conversations. It felt like a good end to my last session.

Later on in the night there was a lip syncing event, highlights included Vick lipsyncing to “Gold Digger” by Kanye West, Vick and Teddy lipsyncing to “Big Poppa” by Notorious B.I.G, and Ben doing an amazing rendition of “That’s how I beat Shaq” by Aaron Carter, which I have to say might have been the single greatest thing I have ever witnessed.

After that I wrote in some directories and went to bed.

A Collection of Musings on Day 12 (Myrtlewood 2017, by camper Kiley K)

A soft voice singing to a sleepy cabin wakes me this morning. It is time to leave the cushy warmth of my flannel blankets to face the smoky air. The smoke stifles sound and sunshine, dampening the normally jovial morning. However, this melancholy is nothing a breakfast of delicious frittata and fresh fruit can’t cure.

Today is a rest day and breakfast is extended. The sparsely populated lodge slowly fills with campers, tables are covered in plates, and a staffer’s child plays a game around the eating crowd.

After eating my book beckons and, relenting, I head to the collection of elderly sofas in a corner of the lodge. While relaxing with my novel a crowd congregates at the Foosball Table for a match. Intense guitar chords accompany this competition.

Advisee group by the creek, the air is clearer there.

Wading in the shallows during check-in.

Sore ankles relieved of pain.

A game of fantasy – new campers, new story.

The hour before lunch allows for the tidying of personal effects.

Partial packing helps ease last minute stress.

Once mind and clothing has been organized to satisfaction, back to the lodge to read.

Joining a group of campers and staff in a corner of the lodge we listen raptly to a casual performance. Skye plays guitar and mockingly croons the lyrics in their best “Indie Voice.” Switching back and forth from their natural voice to the “Indie Voice” makes the listeners laugh heartily.

Lunch:

Filling and rich potato and leek soup is accompanied by warm cornbread dripping with butter and honey. Salad (of course) fills the remainder of my plate.

Siesta: my favorite time. Today I spend the hour lounging in a hammock beneath the hemlocks reading, napping, and discussing literature with a good friend. Then a visit to the creek: fresh air, skipping stones, and catching salamanders.

How lovely this day has been.