Campfire Stories the Bryn Mawr Way…

Who doesn’t love a great story? We know our campers do! For years, campers have enjoyed traditional summertime readings of two of our favorite books, The Velveteen Rabbit and The Giving Tree, and we’ve blogged before about why we love those two books.

Each summer, when we sit down to read our Friday night stories, we try to bring back some old favorites as well as introduce some new selections, each with a message that underscores the values that are at the heart of the Bryn Mawr experience. Here are some of the books we’ve enjoyed at our all-camp storytimes this summer!

Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day
By Jamie Lee Curtis

“Today I feel silly; Mom says it’s the heat. I put rouge on the cat and gloves on my feet.” We love this fun picture book about a little girl and all the various emotions she experiences from day to day. Moods (good and bad!) are something that happen to us all, and it’s so important for children to feel like they can express their feelings in an honest, open and constructive way. Everyone will be angry, sad, excited, scared, happy or silly at various times, and we love that this book makes it feel OK to have all these different feelings, and to know that they are universal.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
By James Dean and Eric Litwin

Singing, chants and cheers are such a big part of life at camp, so this sing-along book is a big hit with campers of all ages. We also love the message — that “stuff” doesn’t matter. Pete loses his buttons, but he doesn’t let that get him down. He keeps on singing! This is such a fun book to read aloud and to encourage kids to join in on the rhymes.

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t)
By Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley

Miss Brooks is a quirky librarian who loves to bring stories to life. And Missy is a little girl who refuses to like any of Miss Brooks’ book suggestions. Miss Brooks goes overboard to prove to her student that there’s a book out there for her! To tell you the truth, this one is for our counselors as much as it is for our campers — they have all experienced trying to get a camper excited about something she doesn’t think she’ll like! For campers, Miss Brooks’ message is a wonderful one that really highlights one of the great things about camp: We might not all like the same things, but when it comes down to it, there is something for everyone!

We hope you and your daughters enjoy some of these stories at home — and if you have book suggestions, send them our way. We’re always on the lookout for a great read with a great message!

We’ve got spirit, yes we do!

There’s excitement in the air around camp, and we bet you know why…

Thursday night was Spirit Night!

OK, OK — we know, and you know, that this Saturday is Visiting Day. It’s a highlight of the summer for campers and parents alike. For parents, it’s your chance to see what your daughters have been up to all summer — meet their counselors, see their new skills, check out their art projects. And for campers, it’s a day to show off their summer home, plus revel in a little special family time!

Just like you spend extra time getting your house ready to welcome special guests, we invest extra effort in getting camp ready to welcome our most special visitors: our parents and families. During the week before Visiting Day, excitement runs high around camp as campers rush to finish art projects, perfect new skills and clean up their bunks in preparation for the big day. There’s a thin line between excitement and nervousness, and as much fun as it is to think about the joy that comes with Visiting Day, campers also sometimes have a hard time focusing on day-to-day life at camp as they think about the family reunion to come.

More than a decade ago, we landed on a way to channel that pre-Visiting Day energy into something fun and productive that celebrates camp and all the things we love about it. In the days running up to Visiting Day, amid the preparations for Saturday, we spend extra time preparing for Spirit Night, an evening when campers quite literally sing the praises of their age groups.

Spirit Night is about bringing campers together to reflect on what makes their age group special — their interests, their inside jokes, their love for camp and what it means to be a camper in their age group. Girls from each bunk work together to write original song lyrics that tell the story of who they are and what makes their age group special — the things they all have in common. On Thursday this week, we gathered all the age groups together in our annual Spirit Night to hear each song performed and embrace the spirit of togetherness that unites girls across cabins, across friendships and through each summer, year after year.

On Saturday, you and your families will be ready and waiting to run across Main Campus and greet your campers, and they’ll gather in a spirit chain to chant “let them in!” The excitement of Visiting Day is the excitement of sharing camp with the outside world and the people we love there. We know there’s no better way to prepare than to spend a special evening celebrating what it means to share camp with one another — the campers and counselors who truly understand what it means to be a Bryn Mawr Angel!

Here at camp, we love the nightlife — evening activity, that is!

When the sun goes down at Bryn Mawr, the fun is just beginning. Every night after dinner there’s something new to do.

Planning for evening activities is one of the biggest jobs our staff does as we prepare to start the summer. Seven weeks of camp means 48 nights of evening activities, and when you take into consideration that some nights have as many as four or five different activities going on, that means we’re planning hundreds of hours of evening entertainment every year. Some of those nights will include favorite traditional activities like Talent Night, Spirit Night and Gold Rush, but we also want to give campers new, fresh events to look forward to each summer, and that means our program staff and group leaders are constantly working on creative ideas for late-in-the-day fun.

There are a few things we always consider when planning an evening activity. First of all, of course, is safety, followed closely by fun! We work on scheduling a mix of different kinds of activity levels; for example, we know Friday nights are always Talent Night, so we try to make sure either Thursday or Saturday has an evening activity that is more active or athletic.

Another way in which we have to provide balance? Age group-specific vs. all-camp evening activities. Part of the benefit of camp is having younger girls interacting with older girls, providing opportunities to learn leadership and positive role modeling. That’s why every week of camp includes a few evening activities that involve the whole camp — special events like Spirit Night, when each age group gets to show off what makes it special, as well as routine gatherings like our weekly talent shows, when Bunk One girls take the lead as hosts and girls of every age have the chance to share their skills.

At the same time, age-appropriate activities are important, too! That’s why some evening activities are planned for specific age groups. Junior campers get to have some silly fun while senior campers enjoy activities that are designed to appeal to older girls.

For example, in the past week we’ve had several evening activities — College Night, a DJ’ed dance party, Talent Night — that have been for the entire camp to enjoy. And we’ve also had some evenings when campers have had special evening activities planned just for them. Every Monday night for the past 15 summers, juniors have competed in Junior Leagues, a fun, recreational sports league that mingles the younger age groups, introduces new games and gives our oldest juniors a chance to be the leaders for the night. While juniors were playing Leagues and Lower Seniors were off on their overnight trip to the Berkshires, the Upper Seniors bonded at a campfire, Bunk Two had a special age group activity put on by their group leaders, and Bunk One enjoyed “Flick and Float” — a Senior Camp favorite — movie night at the pool! The following night, Junior Camp held the Rainbow Games, while Bunk Two enjoyed their own Flick and Float, Upper Seniors had a special activity planned by their group leaders, and Bunk One hosted another favorite senior activity — a social with our friends from Camp Wayne for Boys.

While there’s nothing quite like the energy of having everyone together for an all-camp evening activity, there’s also something very special about the days when just one, two or a few age groups spend the evening together. It’s a chance for campers to get to know one another better, share new experiences and model leadership and community in a different way every night.