The Art of Camp

  • Nestled halfway up the Dell Hill, situated between the chaos and noise of the pool, and the calm of animal care, sits one of our most “lived in” spaces at camp, our Arts and Crafts building. Walls covered with names of past campers, rafters cluttered with dates from more than 40 years ago, the space, is a holy one. One that tells a story of creativity and discovery, covered in a layer of paint, dusted in glitter and put on the shelf to display for many years to come. You can run your hand over the benches and feel the names of campers etched into the wood, you can walk up the stairs to the second level and hear the planks of the steps creak under the weight of years of memories. Camp is our canvas, and we are lucky to get each summer to paint and learn and grow, and each day to sketch and explore and even start a new project, and often times, enhance an existing one.

    We need the right materials to make the perfect summer. The unwavering support of staff, the unmatched energy and enthusiasm of our campers, and a pallet of activity, adventure and excitement at our disposal. Just like you need all of the pieces of a mosaic to be able to see the complete picture, Tel Noar needs all of our campers, and on Tuesday we were beyond excited to welcome our Second Session family into the fold. The pieces all look a bit different, they fit together in different ways and different arrangements, sometimes in the most perfectly imperfect way, but once they’ve found their place, you can see the full display of color. It’s truly a beautiful thing.

    Our Tuesday nights are always filled with thoughtful planning and seamless execution for each group’s bunk night and I look forward to observing the demonstration of creativity from the youngest to the oldest, boys and girls. It’s these moments that help the greater picture come together. Bunk 18 learned to work together as they took on Bunk Bootcamp as a team. Bunk 11A and 11B combined their colors with mixed teams during their 4-Square tournament, Bunks 7 & 17 showed their colors (green and yellow) with Color War competitions, and Bunk 9 and Bunk 12 also got to use their creativity as they made slime and had a cake-off.

    Time as a bunk is always the common thread that ties a summer together. Different days, like different stitches, weave together the same way bracelets made for one another adorn our wrists and tell a story of friendship and kindness. The twists and turns aren’t bumps in the road but instead give us more texture, more depth and result in a stronger bond and higher quality relationship. No friendship bracelet is perfect, but the time that goes into making one produces something we proudly wear for the other ten months of the year. A reminder of a summer well spent, with friends you will always stick with you, tied to your wrist like a tether to the shores of Sunset Lake.

    The fabric of our community is kindness. We try out new materials to encourage our curiosity. Experience failure on the basketball court and dark room and maybe even at the pool, but through that we turn back to the drawing board where we learn resilience, build self-confidence and learn the skills we need to cope and start fresh. The end result of a summer spent away looks different for every camper and even for every summer. You can have the same colorful memories and tie them together in the same exact way and each season will still have a different feel, a different look. Tie dying a shirt, no matter how much you plot and plan, always has an element of surprise. We bunch and twist the fabric, sign up for electives and plan our evenings with friends, hoping for the perfect outcome and while it may not exactly what we pictured, the end result is always a masterpiece. I’m a big believer that every tie dye comes out exactly how it was intended, just like each summer is the perfect portrait of what it was meant to be.

    And then there’s the glue that holds it all together. The finishing touch on a collage of memories and highlights from our week. Our accapella group performing at lunch. Support staff and campers writing to each other for the launch of our pen pal program. A visiting day filled with family, food and then a trip to Chunky’s. Zoe giving away her CTN shirt at the Pembroke Swim Meet to a young camper from another camp who was upset. The Farm Banquet organized by Bunks 8 & 18. Our trip to Urban Air last night, that was off the charts fun…even for the adults! The ping pong elective is bursting at the seams, same with Bog Nature Survival. Our Tish B’av service that concluded with everyone at camp joining in singing Matisyahu’s One Day. That was one of those moments as a staff member, or in this case, an artist, when you could take a step back and just admire the work and beauty of camp.

    For new campers, they have already found a place they belong, a pattern to follow here at camp, and the support and creativity to own their experience and create something beautiful. For those who have been here before, either during the first session or prior summers, they jumped right back into their camp routine, picked up that paintbrush and have continued as though they never left. And when you pick your child up in a few weeks and your 9 year-old daughter or 15 year-old son have tears streaming down their faces at the thought of leaving this perfect place, know how special it is that your child found CTN and that they now have a home at a little camp, in a sleepy NH town that will always be theirs, that’s the perfect finished product. Crafting the ideal summer away at a sleep away camp is something that takes time, boundless energy, careful attention, and ruthless passion. Campers, counselors and senior staff all have the same commitment to the same goal: a fantastic camp experience. Whether is for 2 weeks, 3.5 or 7 weeks the same vision, attention, time and creativity goes into producing a true work of art and a one of a kind camp experience. Camp can get messy, but it’s fun and it’s wild and it’s beautiful, and all it takes is for us to roll up our sleeves and jump into the crazy and embrace the beauty.

    Shabbat shalom!

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