People looking into summer camp get inundated with all sorts of facts about camp, as they should — the type of camp, dates, fees, packing lists, etc. They may also see lots of general exclamations, such as, “awesome!”, “adventure!”, “experience of a lifetime!”, which are all true. But what does Camp Quinebarge feel like?
Camp has highs and lows and some in-between. Here are some of the best highs for me, and some of my worst moments at Camp Quinebarge. I’m going to start with the lows, because each of them turned into highs as our camp community rallied together. For instance, several years ago, we had two straight weeks of rain followed by two weeks of 90-degree weather. It could have been the worst way to introduce summer camp, with sogginess and discomfort hovering over everything, but our staff put together an active program that had kids entertained the whole time, without resorting to movies or anything electronic. Our nurse picked up soggy towels from each cabin and dried them daily, to ensure hygiene and comfort. It was a lot of work, but we all had a great time. Another worst time is having some kids feel homesick, but staff, cabinmates, and friends help out the children in need, which ends up creating new bonds between campers and staff. Four times each season, we have to say goodbye to those who are leaving that session, which is tearful, to say the least. Taking a step back we see that the reason it’s hard is because we bonded as friends and shared experiences we will never forget.
For me, the best times at Camp Quinebarge are about sound, those that happen every day. What does that mean? Let me share a day I regularly have: as I head up to the dining hall to the chime of the camp bell announcing us to breakfast, my ears fill with the voices of kids heading to line up at the door and the cracking of the balls as kids play carpet ball outside. The campers’ voices continue as they have their first chats of the day and maybe sing some songs during breakfast. Through the morning and afternoon I hear the bell reminding us the time, the occasional loon call, giggles and laughter on the lake from campers on their kayaks, playaks, and paddleboards, the splashing arms and feet of swim lessons, the buzzing and hammering of the woodshop, an occasional neigh from the horses, cheers from the sports field, van engines shutting off as campers returning from hiking trips excitedly recount their adventures, and general bustling and busyness all around. There is music and laughter at our all-camp festival, the Monkeytown Carnival; cheers of competition and teamwork at the Monkeytown Olympics; and, for me, the Sunday camp fire fire with its crackling camp fire, filled with singing, chanting, and stories.
Finally, every evening ends with the Friendship Circle song, where we solemnly remind one another of the friendships and self confidence made throughout the summer. At its best and worst, overnight summer camp, especially Camp Quinebarge, is about enjoying the outdoors, challenging yourself to try new things, and developing friendships.