Life at Bryn Mawr is guided by a set of values called the Angel Code, and every camper down to the littlest Manor House girl can tell you what those values are: Loyalty, Beauty, Merit and Comradeship. The Angel Code is more than just a set of words, though. It’s a toolbox that campers can take back into their everyday lives to help them become thoughtful, compassionate young women. That’s why it’s so important to us that the Angel Code isn’t just a set of words we recite; it’s a value set that’s integrated into everyday life at camp. Our programs don’t just teach athletic and artistic skills. They reinforce the values that we hold dear.
As we walk around camp on an average day, we are constantly encountering examples of the Angel Code being promoted in our program areas. We often start in the kitchen, where campers taking a cooking lesson are learning comradeship as they work together to measure and assemble a recipe. This week, cooking classes staged a “Cupcake Wars” competition, and participants got a firsthand lesson in how comradeship and merit go hand-in-hand as teams worked together to come up with the best cupcake creation!
When we leave cooking and head toward Main Campus, we usually stop off at the SHAC for arts and crafts, which is always busy and always humming with activities that promote the Angel Code. If comradeship had a smell, we’re pretty sure it would be tempera paint! Campers often come in to do group projects as a bunk, or to work side-by-side on individual projects, giving and receiving friendly feedback. One of the most popular everyday activities in arts and crafts is card making. Campers (and counselors!) are constantly coming in to make thank you, birthday or welcome back cards – each a little example of loyalty and inner beauty. Arts and crafts director Michele Beus promotes merit, encouraging campers to let go of any perfectionist tendencies and just enjoy the opportunity to try something new. She’ll often remind campers that even professional artists try new things, make mistakes and learn from them – all while enjoying the experience of creating something new.
From arts and crafts, we might walk down the road to the lakeshore, where examples of merit abound: Campers on the climbing wall, trying for personal bests (even if that means climbing just one foot higher than they did last time). Campers on the ropes course, navigating tough obstacles. Campers on the waterski dock, working on a new skill level, whether it’s moving from the boom to the rope or building more advanced ski skills. Hard work and personal challenges are met with real rewards here as campers experience the exhilaration of accomplishment from the top of the zipline or the middle of the lake.
It’s just a short stroll from here to the nature museum, where we are surrounded – literally – by examples of beauty. The nature museum is a place where girls see that beauty doesn’t necessarily have to be on the outside. The animals that call the nature museum home aren’t always the most cuddly or adorable creatures, but as campers get to know them, they see that underneath a strange-looking exterior, there’s often a fascinating story and a friendly personality. Our animal residents (in the nature museum as well as the stables) are also a good lesson in loyalty, as campers can see how they depend on humans for the things they need to survive and how important it is for us to ensure they are properly cared for.
Our camp circuit next heads through the athletic fields, starting with volleyball and continuing to basketball, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, fitness, dance and gymnastics. At each stop, we see campers learning the value of hard work – merit – as their skills increase, as well as comradeship. Teamwork is as important off the field as on, and you can’t visit a scrimmage or gymnastics team practice without hearing the girls on the sidelines or waiting for an apparatus cheering on their teammates who are giving it their all.
The Angel Code is an important part of our camp tradition, but it’s so much more than just a poem or an idea. All it takes is a quick walk around camp to see that it’s deeply ingrained into the way we live at Bryn Mawr!