Camp Tall Timbers http://www.camptalltimbers.com Come Explore Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:53:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Senior Campfire http://www.camptalltimbers.com/senior-campfire/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/senior-campfire/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:58:15 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3500 You know what’s great? Let me tell you something that’s great. It’s great when you have to adjust your plans, and everything works out perfectly anyway. Here’s what happened. Last night was supposed to be a Senior Campfire: the younger kids went bowling, and everybody else had the camp to ourselves. I was in charge […]

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You know what’s great? Let me tell you something that’s great. It’s great when you have to adjust your plans, and everything works out perfectly anyway. Here’s what happened.

Last night was supposed to be a Senior Campfire: the younger kids went bowling, and everybody else had the camp to ourselves. I was in charge of planning things, and I had hoped to have a pool party, but it was actually like -95 degrees out (by which I mean, like, 60), and the campers’ grumbling let me know that a pool party might not go over too well. So we all bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets and headed down to the lake.

First we did nature portraits. I was introduced to this phenomenon at camp this summer, and it’s now one of my favorite things to do at a campfire. With your cabin, you use rocks and sticks and other nature-type items to construct a likeness of your counselor. I gave everybody fifteen minutes, put on some music and let them work.

Cabins H, 7 and 8 got right to work, being 13 and more likely to get into things like nature portraits, and Boys Tents and Girls Tents stood around and chatted for the first ten minutes. Nevertheless, everybody came out with a really awesome, super creative portrait. Cabin H had chosen Shelby, and using sticks and grass they’d shown her Rollins sweatshirt, and her blond hair. Cabins 7 & 8, working as a team, had created their counselor Stephen as a Minecraft character: he was boxy, and he held a bow, because Stephen teaches archery here at camp.

Boys Tents had deviated from the norm of making a two-dimensional stick-figure on the ground by creating a smaller counselor-doll of Jackson. Nature-Jackson had red hair, and that was pretty much his only distinguishing characteristic. Boys Tents didn’t win the competition. Girls Tents should have won (but only because they made me and I’m biased): I was smiling, because I’m always happy, and, using grass clippings, they got my lopsided pixie cut just right.

After S’mores, we got really into a trivia game.  The questions were a bizarre mix of factoids we counselors happened to know. What is the newest country? What is the chemical name for table salt? What was Emma’s first year working at camp? In what year was the first battle of the Revolutionary War? What kind of dog is Dyson? What is Theresa’s major in college? 78 won by a landslide, probably more because they were louder than because they knew more answers, and we all gathered around the fire to dance and sway to quiet campfire music.

It really was a beautiful night. As darkness fell and the mood became more contemplative, we turned to stargazing. The moon was just beginning to wane, and every few minutes a meteor would streak across the sky. The fire turned to coals. Wrapped in blankets, hooking arms around one another, we hiked back up to camp as the stars continued to spin above our heads.

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Plaques http://www.camptalltimbers.com/plaques/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/plaques/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:47:45 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3498 You guys, I cannot even believe how quickly this session has gone. One minute the bus was pulling into camp, spilling bright-eyed campers into the sunlight, and now all of a sudden we have our plaques already. I love plaques, even though plaques kind of signal the coming end of the session. Do you know […]

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You guys, I cannot even believe how quickly this session has gone. One minute the bus was pulling into camp, spilling bright-eyed campers into the sunlight, and now all of a sudden we have our plaques already.

I love plaques, even though plaques kind of signal the coming end of the session. Do you know about plaques? I’ll clue you in. Each session, each cabin or tent group gets a little flat square of wood, all plain and innocent, and it’s our job to fill it in with inside jokes from the session, or little tidbits about who we are as a group. The funny thing is, though, that the way each tent or cabin goes about painting their plaque says as much about them as what they put on it.

I’m a tents counselor, meaning I have the oldest girls. They love camp, not particularly because they love their activities or anything, but because they’ve built up these amazing relationships with each other over the years, and all they want to do is spend time with one another. So their strategy for painting their plaque is to ignore it: if we don’t paint it, the session won’t end, and we can keep hanging out forever. The younger campers get into it differently. For them, the plaque doesn’t represent the end of the session, but rather their own belonging here. When that plaque is hung in the dining hall rafters, they will become part of the legacy of Camp Tall Timbers. So the little ones tend to get super psyched about their plaques, and spend hours on it days before the end of the session.

But I mean, it’s not over yet, not by a long shot. Tonight and tomorrow night, juniors and seniors will split, alternating between going bowling and having a campfire. The seniors decided they wanted a pre-campfire pool party, so that’s a thing, plus also bowling is the funnest thing when you do it with your camp friends. Also still to come is Granny’s Candy, which is on everybody’s list of Top Five Things that Happen at Camp Tall Timbers, and zip lining, and so many more silly moments, jokes with counselors, hangouts with friends, good meals, deep sleeps and all the other things that make days at camp so much fun.

When my girls finally get around to working on their plaque (which, let’s be real, will probably be late Friday afternoon), they’ll have two more days’ worth of inside jokes than they do now. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

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Find The Foxes http://www.camptalltimbers.com/find-foxes/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/find-foxes/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:29:46 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3494 The bell rang, as usual, at 7:30pm. A crowd gathered at the pavilion, and I was brimming with enthusiasm. It was Find the Foxes night, which meant the whole camp would be spending the next hour in a mad dash around camp. The foxes were little pieces of paper slipped in the most secret spots, and […]

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The bell rang, as usual, at 7:30pm. A crowd gathered at the pavilion, and I was brimming with enthusiasm. It was Find the Foxes night, which meant the whole camp would be spending the next hour in a mad dash around camp. The foxes were little pieces of paper slipped in the most secret spots, and not only did we have to search for them, but we had to evade the fleet-footed counselors (‘hounds’) who were trying to tag us and steal our well-earned prizes. Once I got my group, I knew we’d be a powerhouse. I had Tre’ Ingram and Tristan Oldham and Zoe White, all of whom are great runners and spirited team players, as well as Michael Godek, Delaney Field and several other great kids. We all tightened our shoelaces and prepared to run.

As soon as the bell announced the beginning of the game, all six teams took off running, most of them towards the upper fields, the gym and the rec hall. Shelby’s team, though, strategized and headed down the long path to the lake. This strategy would put them in the forefront of our challengers for the night. My team, though, did a quick pass through the upper fields and then sprinted around camp to the riflery range, picking up several high-value colored foxes on the way, before we circled back up the lake hill shortcut. Tre’, my oldest camper, immediately took on a leadership role. He and I took shifts looking out for Justin and Nathaniel, the counselors who were trying to tag us, while the other one made sure we had all nine campers in our group. Everyone was committed to the team. We were sweaty and panting as we hoofed up the hill behind the dining hall, but with Tre’ and Tristan’s spirit and Zoe’s enthusiasm for running ahead, we were very much in the lead.

As the evening activity wore on and it became clear that my team and Shelby’s team were far in the lead, and Justin and Nathaniel began to target our groups. Our brash strategy had to change. We snuck behind buildings, only to find ourselves cornered between two hounds. Justin called us all in to a group huddle. “Give me one of your foxes,” he said, “and listen up.” We all leaned in further. He got this maniacal little gleam in his eye, and a smile played on his lips. “You have five seconds to run.”

And we were off again, screaming warnings to other teams.

At 8:30, the bell announced the end of the game. Soft pretzels were distributed. We all gazed up at the bright, full Supermoon that hung lopsided on top of the trees. The winner wouldn’t be announced until the following morning, but I for one was too elated by the run to care about the victory. Later that night, as I was getting my girls heading towards bed, Tristan came up and gave me a fist bump. He explained to his friends how awesome our team had been, how they couldn’t have done it without me. That meant more than the victory (which, it turned out, went to Shelby’s team anyway). My team fought so hard, and I made nine new friends because of it.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

-       In Archery, Noah Gross shot like Katniss Everdeen

-       Also in Archery, Owen Matthews hit the can, Owen Abbey hit the tennis ball off the target and Zach Buchalter hit the bullseye

-       Hannah Miles won two games of jailbreak in Tennis

-       Ethan Fannon beat the instructor in Tennis

-       Claire Schmitt got up the hard side of the wall, and as a reward she got to hit the instructor with water balloons

-       Liana May and Tristan Oldham won World Cup in Soccer

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Things We Learn http://www.camptalltimbers.com/things-learn/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/things-learn/#comments Sun, 10 Aug 2014 13:48:55 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3492 It’s mid-third session, and I for one am engaging in a little of the good old-fashioned self-reflection camp is known for. I mean, camp is better known for summer fun and games and ridiculousness, but I feel like another important part of the summer camp experience is the way it allows us to take time […]

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It’s mid-third session, and I for one am engaging in a little of the good old-fashioned self-reflection camp is known for. I mean, camp is better known for summer fun and games and ridiculousness, but I feel like another important part of the summer camp experience is the way it allows us to take time away from our real lives to ruminate on who we are, how far we’ve come and what it all means.

I’ve always been a proponent of the theory that we’re all where we need to be to learn the lessons we need to learn, and summer camp, especially Camp Tall Timbers, is the kind of place that facilitates that. For the campers, I think one of the most important lessons to learn here is that every moment has the potential to be a great memory. Every skit night, every activity period could easily be the most fun thing you did all summer, if you put in the effort and the creativity. Every moment is a chance to prove to yourself that you have infinitely more strength than you knew.

I have a bet going with Delaney Field, one of the girls in my rock climbing class. Every class she devotes her whole self to getting up the wall; I’ve never seen another camper commit so intensely to one goal. Every time, she gets about half way up and hits a spot she just can’t pass. She clings to her spot, refusing to come down, while I and the other campers holler encouragement and support.

Eventually, though, I have to offer an ultimatum. “There’s no easy way to do this, Delaney,” I call. “You just have to pick a move and commit to it. Put your left leg up and then straighten your leg, okay? Just like you’re standing up from squatting.” I give her one minute: if she doesn’t advance up the wall by then, she has to come down. Other campers need a turn on the wall.

Delaney hasn’t made it up the wall yet, but she will. Even in the few climbing classes we’ve had so far, she’s gotten farther and done it with a more enthusiastic attitude. Delaney is pretty young, and I don’t know if she’s thinking about her experience climbing the wall in terms of personal growth and skill development, but I guess that’s why I’ll do it for her. Delaney, and all the other campers here, are working so hard on developing new and important skills. Camp will do that for you. It can be silly stuff, too. Keenan Jamison hates cleaning, but his cabin mates get annoyed with him when he doesn’t clean, so he’s starting to learn that people like him more when he picks up after himself. In their own way, everybody is learning exactly what they need to.

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Challenges http://www.camptalltimbers.com/challenges/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/challenges/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:50:18 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3489 I teach a lot of Challenge Course. Like, a lot. Every day I try to get groups of kids to communicate, work together and solve problems in new ways. It’s so interesting to me the different ways kids come up with for the same challenges, so today I’m going to relay a few of them […]

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I teach a lot of Challenge Course. Like, a lot. Every day I try to get groups of kids to communicate, work together and solve problems in new ways. It’s so interesting to me the different ways kids come up with for the same challenges, so today I’m going to relay a few of them to you.

Yesterday I had a group of kids mostly comprised of younger boys, as well as two younger girls. After a few name games and ice breakers, we got into our first real challenge. They had to all stand on a blanket, and, without taking their feet off of it, flip it over to stand on the other side. Everybody panics when they get this objective. It shouldn’t be possible. Immediately, though, the louder or more confident campers jump into action. “Wait!” I holler, and everyone freezes. I run through the group, pointing. Half the campers will be temporarily blinded; the other half will be unable to speak. Invariably, everybody complains: how can we work together when we can’t talk? But that’s part of the challenge. With campers more naturally predisposed to leadership muted, and those who more naturally hang back given the ability to speak but not see, teamwork takes on a more urgent palor.

For the first few minutes of the challenge, folks experiment with different methods for flipping the blanket. Usually, they’re unsuccessful. With the group I had yesterday, they tried a really amusing but ultimately unsuccessful method of folding up all four corners, leaving themselves nowhere to stand. As they realized the problem they created, they grumbled to me, and started roughhousing around instead of working on the challenge.

“Okay, pause, everybody off the blanket” I said. They all gratefully stepped off. We had a conversation about why they were struggling. I said that five fingers was “I am contributing to the team awesomely” and one finger was “I am not contributing to the team at all”, and asked everybody to hold up the fingers they felt they were doing. Everybody was at around a two or a three. I asked why, and we had an awesome conversation, and when we got back on the blanket, they worked together much better. Those who could see helped those who could not, and those who could talk listened to one another.

When I could see that they were close to success, I said, “Two minutes to complete the challenge!” and they jumped into action. The success was delicious precisely because they had struggled. 

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

-       Owen Linares won a game of gagaball; Zach Buchalter won two games

-       Ella Stamerra won the Smallest Splash competition

-       Nadine Twombly won the Funniest Dive competition

-       Claire Schmitt and Hailey Mostow climbed the easy side of the rock wall; Loea Kang made it up the hard side

-       Owen Abbey went paddleboarding for the first time

-       Michael Godek won Pirate Wars at the Lake

-       Hannah Miles and Nadine Twombly won jailbreak in tennis

-       Yogalates began during free swim, and it was a big success

-       Zeke White hit a tennis ball off the top of the target in Archery

-       Livia Lampal and Zoe White climbed the easy side of the rock wall

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Cacapon Trip http://www.camptalltimbers.com/cacapon-trip/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/cacapon-trip/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:57:50 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3487 Last night I was initiated into a top-secret camp society. Obviously, to tell you about it would be to betray the very confidence that was just extended to me, and I’m not even sure if mentioning it like this is really okay. But it was so cool I have to let you, dear reader, know […]

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Last night I was initiated into a top-secret camp society. Obviously, to tell you about it would be to betray the very confidence that was just extended to me, and I’m not even sure if mentioning it like this is really okay. But it was so cool I have to let you, dear reader, know it exists. Here’s what I can tell you: it takes place in the gym. I can tell you that it’s more than a game: it’s a lifestyle. And I can tell you that it’s very, very fun. You wish you could know more, but sadly, you can’t.

That was awkward: as a blogger, one usually chooses a subject matter one can actually write about. So I’ll switch topics to the raging success that was yesterday’s outing to Cacapon State Park.

We piled into two vans and a bus immediately following Rest Hour. The ride was great: some fresh air, good music and good company. At Cacapon, we spent a bunch of hours just chilling on the beach. Kids played Frisbee and water polo; they buried one another in the sand; they lined up for the big hit – the snack bar. The water was chilly, but that dissuaded no one. Everyone got in at some point, from the littlest boys to the oldest girls.

As evening fell over the lake, we moved our gear and our enthusiasm to our pavilion for the cookout/barbeque. There really is nothing like a good burger after a long afternoon playing by the lake, and Mark Clark and Glenn Smith sure can make a good burger. Usually, in the camp dining hall, we eat separated by cabins and gender, so it was awesome to see all the kids eating together, boys and girls, youngsters and teenagers all eating and chatting together. Finally we finished up our watermelon and headed out into the field for games. There was charades, four-on-four soccer, red-light-green-light, mill-and-grab and lots of other camp favorites.

By the time we piled back into our vehicles for the trip back to camp, everyone had that wind-blown, sandy look that means a summer day well spent. I was exhausted, but also the radio was playing all kinds of dance tunes, so somehow my van became the party bus. We sang along to all the summer hits, and we were home before we knew it. I fell into bed, grateful for the chance to spend my summer with such great kids, in a place as great as Camp Tall Timbers.

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Cabin Night http://www.camptalltimbers.com/cabin-night-2/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/cabin-night-2/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:04:03 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3485 Last night was Cabin Night, an esteemed Camp Tall Timbers tradition. It works like this: at breakfast, every cabin or tent group engages in a mad scramble for the best spots. It’s like for ten minutes all the counselors are engaged in some sort of medieval-courtesan, uber-polite yet totally ironic scramble, complete with deals and […]

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Last night was Cabin Night, an esteemed Camp Tall Timbers tradition. It works like this: at breakfast, every cabin or tent group engages in a mad scramble for the best spots. It’s like for ten minutes all the counselors are engaged in some sort of medieval-courtesan, uber-polite yet totally ironic scramble, complete with deals and exchanges whispered just out of earshot of Admin. I’m exaggerating. But still, when my kids, Girls Tents, ended up with the pavilion, I was super pleased. We didn’t even have to think about what we’d be doing: it was Disney Movie Night. Indeed, when evening activity rolled around, we popped in Pocahontas and sang along with all the songs.

I love Cabin Night. It’s kind of geeky of me, because there are so many other awesome evening activities that are way more high profile, but there’s something about it that makes me happy. I think it’s that because even though we live together, cabins and tents spend all day running around in classes and free swims, goofing around with other kids from other age groups, that they don’t actually have that much time to get to know one another, at least not in the first few days. Cabin Night is one of the first times we really get to form those crazy-deep, supercharged, important camp friendships that mean so much. Cabin Night is when we stop pretending to be cooler than we are and belt out every single word to “Colors of the Wind” because let’s be real, that’s everybody’s jam.

Girls Tents watched a movie, and Boys Tents played cards, and I don’t know what cabin this was, but somebody was having a whole lot of fun playing dodgeball in the gym. It was kind of rainy, but that just made it better. It was cozy, just like Cabin Night is supposed to be.

Today we’re going to Cacapon to go swimming, run around and have a cookout. It will be loud and boisterous, and maybe kids will hang out with friends from their cabin, but maybe they won’t. But that’s okay either way, because those cabin bonds have been solidified. We’re all part of a community now. We belong, and that’s what camp is about.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings 

-       Loea Kang and Jill Boylan made it up the hard side of the rock wall

-       B4 Challenge completed the human knot in 24 seconds

-       Crawford Hemmis won Zip Zap Zop in Improv

-       At Lake Activities, Adin McGurk won Somali Pirate Wars

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Session 3! http://www.camptalltimbers.com/session-3/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/session-3/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:01:33 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3483 There are two ways to approach Third Session at Camp Tall Timbers. The first is to choke, panic about the upcoming school year and metaphorically freeze, spending the whole session worrying about your impending future. The other is to squeeze every last drop of fun out of these two weeks, forget about how time flies […]

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There are two ways to approach Third Session at Camp Tall Timbers. The first is to choke, panic about the upcoming school year and metaphorically freeze, spending the whole session worrying about your impending future. The other is to squeeze every last drop of fun out of these two weeks, forget about how time flies and just savor the sun, the friendship and the silliness of camp. It seems like everybody here, campers and staff alike, has chosen the second route. It’s Third Session, and we’re all diving in.

Let’s be real, the first day of camp is always kind of awkward. It’s great to meet up with old friends, but everybody’s unsure of how they’ve changed in the past year, who they’re going to be in their new cabin community, how to act around staff and each other. We all traipse from activity to activity, trying tennis, petting the horses, tentatively paddling out from shore in kayaks or canoes. It’s a tense kind of fun. It’s not til the evening that people really relax.

On the first night, we do an activity festival. It’s like bingo, but with dizzy bat and a stellar prize. Each camper gets a bingo sheet listing all the different activity areas they have to visit, and they run around the upper fields and basketball courts trying to check things off their list. I was running the Creative Arts activity, which included arts and crafts, writing and rocketry. When kids came to my station, they had to write a rhyming poem about camp. Let me see if I can recall some of the highlights:

“Camp is very very snazzy/ It is so extraordinazzy.”

“Camp is fun, camp is great/It makes it very hard to hate.”

It took most people about forty minutes to run through all the different activities, completing all the tasks and getting check marks on their bingo sheets. When they finished, they ran their sheets in to Mark Clark, admin extraordinaire, and the first cabin or tent group to get all their sheets in won the prize. The winner: Girl’s Tents. Duh. Girl’s Tents is the best. (I might be biased. I happen to be a Girls Tents counselor.)

We’re solidly into Day 3, and the initial awkwardness has entirely vanished. Everyone is in it to win it, in it to make this the best summer ever.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

-       Liana May won World Cup in Soccer

-       Owen Matthews made it to the top of the rock wall

-       Tasha Pressler made two bullseyes

-       Crawford Hemmis, Corbin Mauck, Jan Thurber, Mayson Smith and Doug Smith made it to the top of the wall

-       Zoe White and Sean Donohoe hit golf balls past the first tree

-       Tre Ingram got -3 in Frisbee Golf

-       Adin McGurk and Sam Greenberg won knockout in basketball

-       Zach Buchalter won jail in tennis

-       In Horses, Jillian Boylan made it around the barrel pattern in 47 seconds

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Skit Night http://www.camptalltimbers.com/skit-night/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/skit-night/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:00:37 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3478 You guys. So much has happened. I literally do not know if I could sum it all up, that’s how full the last couple days has been. Big happenings include our trip to King’s Dominion, the futsal quarterfinals, the play dress rehearsals, and an epic and hilarious skit night with the theme ‘Harry Potter with […]

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You guys. So much has happened. I literally do not know if I could sum it all up, that’s how full the last couple days has been. Big happenings include our trip to King’s Dominion, the futsal quarterfinals, the play dress rehearsals, and an epic and hilarious skit night with the theme ‘Harry Potter with a Twist’. And that doesn’t even cover all the other things that have happened, all the bullseyes made, all the times the rock wall was summited, the masterpieces made in art class, the ping pong victories and the splashes made in tubing. Not to mention all the important conversations had on the bleachers or the pavilion as everybody realizes how quickly Second Session is drawing to a close. There’s so much left to do.

Skit night was totally awesome. We do a lot of skits here at camp. Sometimes people get just ten minutes to come up with a two-minute skit, and we all understand that part of the hilarity will be in the hurriedness of the design. Other times, like this past time, campers have days to plan their skit. There are props, elaborate jokes, and blocking that would make Broadway take interest. People go hard for Skit Night. And this time it was Harry Potter with a Twist. There were six groups of campers planning skits related to six of the movies, and the counselors were Group Seven. Okay, petty camp-drama moment: I’m pretty sure the staff would have won, but Boys Tents thought it would be funny to give us all zeros on their score cards. I thought we were hilarious. But so was everybody else.

Highlights: Brady Osterman spending the entirety of the Goblet of Fire skit in a cardboard box that said “Goblet of Fire”, popping his head out to exclaim various things at predictable intervals. Harry Potter and friends accidentally ending up in the Ice Age movie franchise, rescuing a human child that ended up being the offspring of none other than Lord Voldemort. Zoey Zhang emerging from her shell as the screaming egg in the Goblet of Fire. Matt Kasoff masterfully playing both Narrator and Harry Potter, matched with heavy doses of cheating towards the audience with ironic winks. Carly Dalton and Sydney Sachs as adorable Minions in a Harry Potter/Despicable Me mashup.

It was a roaring success. And so was King’s Dominion. We got back late last night, and had a late wakeup this morning, so if you’ll excuse me, I have a ton more fun to have as quickly as possible.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

-       Alice Zhao, Yolanda Fan and Freddi Rappoport made it to the top of the wall for the first time

-       The Red Bulls and the Yellow Polkadotted Hippopotami beat out the Purple Nurples and the Orange Crush and will advance to the Superbowl

-       Emma Murphy got a bullseye in archery

-       Leonard Pasquier was the MVP of futsal

-       Carly Dalton was the MVP of flag football

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The Wait http://www.camptalltimbers.com/wait/ http://www.camptalltimbers.com/wait/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:05:10 +0000 http://www.camptalltimbers.com/?p=3476 Two things happened yesterday that showed me something new about camp. I think I already knew this thing, but now I get it, you know? The first thing happened at the basketball court. The instructor, Ethan, made a deal with Keenan Jamison: make three baskets in a row, and I’ll buy you a soda. Soda is an […]

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Two things happened yesterday that showed me something new about camp. I think I already knew this thing, but now I get it, you know?

The first thing happened at the basketball court. The instructor, Ethan, made a deal with Keenan Jamison: make three baskets in a row, and I’ll buy you a soda. Soda is an excellent incentive here at Camp Tall Timbers: we counselors use it in desperate situations to get campers to clean the cabin, or if everybody’s super rowdy at night, we might say “First person in pajamas, teeth brushed, quietly reading gets a soda tomorrow”. It works like a charm. But this time, with Ethan and Keenan up at basketball, there was something else going on. Keenan really wanted that soda, but he also really wanted to make those shots. It meant something to him. It took half an hour, but he did it. The victory was worth more than the soda, I know that much for sure.

The other thing that happened was with Jami Siegal and climbing instructor Jackson up at the rock wall. It was only a few hours after Keenan made those shots. Jami was desperate to get up the wall: it’s a status thing, but also a personal growth thing. And she didn’t just want to get up the wall. She wanted to get up the hard side. And Jackson, excellent counselor that he was, resolved to wait with her as long as it took. Jami would make it up the wall, whether it took all class and all that Free Swim and all the next Free Swim too. She didn’t make it up yesterday. But this morning Jackson came over and patted her on the back and asked if she was ready to give it another go.  Jami will make it to the top of that wall.

So here’s what I’m figuring out. Being a camp counselor, or an instructor, or a teacher, is a lot about shutting up and waiting for the kids to discover their strength. I knew it already, like I said. I know that when I teach Challenge elements, it works best if I keep quiet, even though I know what they’re trying won’t work. If I let them fail, they learn something and try a better plan. It’s hard to keep quiet. It was hard for Jackson to give up his free swim to stand at the wall and coach Jami. It was hard for Ethan not to just tell Keenan, “Listen buddy, two in a row is pretty good, let’s go get that soda.” Working for something makes it that much better.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

-                     Writing Class came up with a group story that is totally going to make everybody famous

-                     In Archery, Sasha Coates-Park hit a bullseye five times

-                     Emily Smith made it to the top of the wall twice

-                     Sebastian Fischbach won jailbreak twice in tennis

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