There are two ways to wake up at our wilderness summer camp. The first way is by the blast of bird song that starts about 5:30 am, in the bushes, shrubs and trees around the cabins, that continues throughout the morning hours.
The second is by the gentle drumming or native flute, played by one of our counselors, shortly before breakfast. Waking up means getting out of our sleeping bags, and heading down to the Farmhouse for a bowl of oatmeal, or pancakes or some other hearty start to our day.
After the meal, we fill our water bottles, brush our teeth, get our gear ready for a morning of peeling elm bark for bark baskets, or building a debris shelter for our survival training, or practicing making fires with one match, or any number of cool activities. The grass is cool on our feet as we head up the mountain, or down to the creek, and we are surrounded by green, lush hills in the mountains.
We work hard, learn through stories told by skilled instructors, and through our hands, directly, doing things ourselves. By the time noon rolls around, we're hungry! Grilled cheese with homemade tomato soup, or bean burritos, or hummus wraps or pb & j are served, along with fresh fruit and chips really hit the spot.
After lunch, we have a short break to change, rest, refill water bottles and get ready for the afternoon! We gather in the barn, or under the apple tree, to cut and assemble our baskets, or make stone tools, or learn to tie grass mats, or practice first aid skills, all learning through doing. We get into some fun conversations that span everything from pop culture and Fortnite to ancient mythology and stories of survival.
Our crafts come together, just in time for snack, in the late afternoon. Fresh baked zucchini bread, or blueberry muffins, or chocolate chip cookies could be served, or it might be watermelon and fresh lemonade on a hot day.
After snack, we head up to camp and some campers can practice meditation and yoga in Eagle House, or hang out by the campfire and carve wooden spoons with the instructors. Sometimes, we'll do a service project, something that helps the camp community, like firewood stacking, or building a bonfire, or maybe getting gravel to fill the potholes in the driveway. We usually hang out in the creek if it's hot, too, to cool off and explore, and maybe find a crayfish or two.
At dinner, we feast on tacos, or mac & cheese, or spaghetti, or chicken, with fresh salads, veggies and lots of fixings. We play some basketball or ultimate frisbee, or soccer, or other games in the playfield, and eventually, we end up near the campfire ring up at the camp, for a council, or storytelling, or coal burning bowls, or some other craft or skill or just hanging out playing guitar.
The sun sets late in the summer, but it's been a long day. The fireflies are out, and there is a hazy mist in the valley. The spruce trees smell fresh and sweet, and the campfire flames dance in the darkening night. The sky is thick with stars and the Milky Way looks incredible.
By the time we head back to our cabins for bed, we're tired, but in a good way. We've made some friends, laughed a ton, learned to juggle, maybe, or discovered some skills and abilities we never knew we could learn.
The sleeping bag feels cozy and warm as we roll into our bunks, and drift off to sleep. There's another day coming tomorrow, and it's going to be packed with adventures just like today......