Transitioning From Camp to Home

It’s hard for us to believe, but the summer is just about to come to a close! It seems as though the end of camp sneaks up on us every year. Color War, the last big event of the summer, is underway, and before you know it the girls will be packing up their duffels and boarding the buses home.

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that campers sometimes have a hard time settling in to the camp routine at the beginning of the summer. What you might not realize is that your daughter may find it challenging to adjust to life after camp! Bryn Mawr has become a second home over the course of the summer, and she’s gotten used to the routine of camp life. After seven weeks of sharing a cabin with a dozen other girls, eating meals in the loud, spirited dining hall and moving from activity to activity every hour, even girls who can’t wait to get home frequently need a few days to reacclimate to the peace and quite of home. (Even the senior staff and directors go through the same process of readjusting to the “real world” come August!)

In addition to the change of environment, your daughter may be emotional about leaving camp. It’s not at all unusual for campers to feel sad about leaving their “summer sisters” at the end of the season. Don’t worry — it doesn’t mean your daughter isn’t happy to see you! She might just need a little bit of time to get used to being away from camp… just like she needed time to get used to being away from home in June.

The post-camp blues generally fade within a day or two. In the meantime, you can help your daughter make a smooth transition back to home life by asking her to share her summer with you. Look at photos and video on the camp website together and listen to her stories about those moments. Break out the tennis racquets and get her to show you the new skills she picked up on the courts at camp. Admire her arts and crafts projects, listen to her Color War play-by-play, and let her teach you her favorite camp song or cheer. Sharing her memories and lessons from the summer is a great way for your daughter to ease back into life at home while continuing to cherish her camp experience!

War Spirit Chains & Color War

Today is the last day of a very close Color War.  To help give a better perspective of  Bryn Mawr and Spirit Chains, an all camp tradition, a few former campers put together this reflection.  This reflection was read at last night’s Color War event.


One an average day, it takes Bryn Mawr campers twenty minutes after reveille blows to pull on the day’s uniform, brush their teeth, and tie up their laces to be ready for breakfast. Even then, they still sluggishly walk to lineup, roused only by the smell of French toast sticks as they enter the Dining Hall. When the girls are awoken, however, by the urgency of Bunk One’s spirited cries, they are ready, alert, and energized within less than a minute. Surprisingly, the overwhelming rush of people and waves of noise approaching their cabins don’t alarm them. Rather, in less than an instant, the campers know exactly what is happening. A Spirit Chain is about to take place, and before you can say “Color War,” these girls are ready for action.

The campers wait anxiously on their porches, jumping up and down giddily as they anticipate latching onto the chain. Following Cabin One’s lead, the girls hold hands as they trot happily down cabin row, chanting the first spirit chain song. Once the circle is formed, it only takes one look around to see something remarkable unfold. The energy emanating from each individual camper is palpable, and it is shared with all fellow Angels and staff. Spirit chains have the ability to transcend the boundaries between camper and staff, regardless of age or experience. It is a cooperative effort – the first sign that Color War is less about competing with one another, and more about uniting through tradition.

It’s not necessary for the girls to know all the exact words to the songs. They somehow understand that it is more important to contribute their enthusiasm and energy to the Spirit Chain, even if that means simply clapping their hands and screaming for fifteen minutes straight.

It doesn’t take years of camp experience to appreciate why Spirit Chains are meaningful. Underneath the chants and screams, the stomps and claps, Spirit Chains uncover the heart of tradition that keeps Bryn Mawr alive – the true reminder of what camp is all about.

Bunk One Weekend and Traditions

We recently got back from a fantastic weekend at camp.

You might be wondering: Camp? In March?

Absolutely! One weekend every March, we mark an incredibly important event at camp: The Bunk One March Meeting. Jane, Dan, Britton, Drew, Pilar and Ty gather at camp for a special weekend with the ninth grade girls who will be our oldest campers — our Bunk One campers. The March Meeting is the very first official event of their Bunk One summer, and the girls have looked forward to it for years — some of them since they were tiny Manor House campers, or even before they started at camp, if they came to see older sisters and cousins on Visiting Day!

The March Meeting is an important milestone for our “Super Seniors.” Not only do the girls take care of some major business like picking special Bunk One uniform and selecting the top-secret themes for their Color War teams, but we take that time to help them start thinking about what it means to be the leaders at camp.

Bunk One is a special experience not just because it’s the final summer as a camper, but because our Bunk One campers serve as peer leaders for the rest of camp. They captain the teams in our annual Color War, lead cheers in the dining hall and the nightly singing of the Alma Mater, and help out with younger girls’ cabins during weekly leadership evenings and during special events. During the March Meeting, we talk to the girls about their leadership role in camp and what will be expected of them as leaders, but the truth is that they’ve been preparing to take the leadership mantle for years.

While Bunk One campers are the most visible leaders among our campers, those leadership skills don’t just magically materialize when campers finish the ninth grade. They’ve been learning leadership skills throughout their summers at camp, both by seeing them modeled by counselors and older campers and by learning how to be good leaders on the playing field and in program areas. We teach campers that being a leader means being kind to one another, and it means knowing how to “do the right thing” even when it doesn’t seem like the easy thing.

By the time they get to Bunk One, campers have been developing leadership skills for many summers, and one of the reasons campers look forward to their Bunk One summer — in fact, maybe the biggest reason — is that Bunk One plays an important leadership role in many of the girls’ favorite camp traditions. From secrecy-shrouded Chocolate Banana Night and the excitement of the weeklong Color War that caps off the summer to routine events like mealtime cheers and Friday night talent shows, Bunk One campers take the lead, getting camp spirit high and helping younger girls learn how camp traditions work. By watching them and following their example, younger girls learn that being a leader is something that’s fun and something to look forward to — and an important part of growing up at camp.

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