Aahhh, summer…. The season of summer day camp; when Life Lab rings with the sound of children’s laughter, the sun shines down on the heads of kids playing games in the meadow, and every child lifts up a cup of a delicious green garden smoothie and gives thanks to the bees and the chickens. I think the camp staff says this every single summer, and it is always true, “This summer was the best year yet for summer camp!”
It’s been a summer of growth, for the garden plants as well as the number of kids served and the amount of volunteer support we received. This summer we welcomed 120 kids total in our Garden Sprouts Camp for 4-6 year olds, 84 kids in our Wildlands and Watering Cans Camp for 7-10 year olds, and 14 kids in our one week Farm and Wilderness Camp for 11-14 year olds. We also had a record number of high school youth volunteers and adult community volunteers, in addition to our counselor staff, helping to keep the kids safe, healthy, and having loads of fun. Camping evokes the excitement of the outdoors, adventure and trying new things – who hasn’t enjoyed their first taste of an emergency food pouch and pretended they’re an astronaut while on camp with their friends?
Every Life Lab camper participates in hands-on exploration of the natural world, harvesting and preparing food from the farm, hiking, garden crafts, music, and storytelling on a daily basis. Our activities are always fun, but the secret to creating a truly special camp environment, and summer memories that last a lifetime: Give love and appreciation, everyday to those around you, and to the place where those memories are being made. All staff, volunteers, and campers, give appreciation and support to each other in a way that makes a lasting difference. As one camp mother said on the last day of camp, “My daughter has opened up and gained more confidence in just the last two weeks than she has all year.”
Summer is all about letting go of the worries and pressures of the school year and embracing the joy of life and simple things. You can see it in the way that a group of Wildlands campers can’t wait to be the first on stage during snack time, to act out their farmer interview and the wildlife they saw on the farm; or in the way a group of Garden Sprouts campers proudly march through the garden with their milk-jug “watering cans”, diligently watering every semi-parched plant they find; or in the way the faces of the Farm and Wilderness kids break out into grins as they learn how to knead dough and make bread. It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but as one seven year old told me on his last day of camp, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back next year!”
Garden Educator and Wildlands and Watering Cans Camp Director