Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Expect Courageous Choices

That's the theme of this year's camp. Three important words and message laying behind it. Expectations. Courage. Choices. From the very beginning Nativity wants to set the bar high for the students giving them at the same time all the support they will need to accomplish their goals. However, even with that it requires a lot of courage from the boys to take up that challenge and follow that path. Each day they will have to make choices which will either confirm or deny their commitment to the values behind those expectations.

Camp is a great time to do that. The expectations are set pretty high - the daily schedule is filled from 7.20 am to after 10 pm with activities varying from cleaning the cabin and helping in the kitchen to classes, swimming and long hikes in the mountains. Even more is expected from raising 7th and 8th graders, as they know the reality of the camp from last year and are expected to teach the rookies the way the camp works.

They need a lot of courage as well. Sometimes it may mean a courage to wake up at night, get out of nice and toasty sleeping bag and make a trip to the bathroom through rather dark main field. On other time it may be a courage to overcome a dislike of tomato soup, grilled cheese or other type of food which a camper doesn't like. It may be a courage to jump to cold pool and let your body float as you don't feel the ground under your feet or taking a leap from one rock to another to climb some of the highest mountains in New York State.

Cabin 2 had today especially a chance to prove their choices on the last ground, as they were on the first hike this camp season - hiking the Blueberry Mountain. For some of them it was the first mountain in their life and they did pretty good job putting their best effort in climbing it. They definitely raised up to the expectations, were very courageous (especially at more steep moments...) and made enough good choices to climb up and down the mountain. It was impressive many times to hear a camper saying that his legs hurt, and immediately after being asked "so what is your choice?", answering "I'll keep on going". It was impressive to see how students were taking other's backpacks, sharing water and supporting each other with a good word.

At the same time, back in the camp the other students were trying to build up a brotherhood in their cabins by playing different games which required a lot of teamwork. They also needed to have courage to forget sometimes about their own needs to let the whole cabin succeed. It's not always easy to do... all of us need to learn courageous choices...

If you want to see some of the photos from the hike, click here, and from the day at camp - here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The First Full Day

The first full day at the camp began fo some of the campers before the 6 am. That was the time some of the people were woken up by pouncing basketballs. After couple of minutes the bounces were more and more frequent and it was clear that most of the camp is awake.
Those noises were getting more and more audible until 7.50 when the bell rang and the whole camp assembled in front of the main hall. If there was anyone in Lake Placid still asleep definitely he wasn't after the whole camp answered Mr. Staysniak's "Good Morning", which was followed by the first morning talk and prayer.

After the breakfast there was first cleaning of the cabins, followed by inspection and
first classes. The kids got to know who are their teachers and who is in their classes. After writing and math classes half of the camp went for the first time to the pool and the other half continued classes with silent reading. The groups switched after an hour.

The activities in the pool began with introducing the "buddy system" Each of the rookies is paired up with a veteran who knows how to swim and is teaching it his younger buddy. That allows them to really quickly learn the basic swimming skills and feel more comfortably in the water. During the afternoon period in the pool there was a swimming instructor from Lake Placid who assessed the campers how well them swim. That allowed to divide them in differ
ent groups and master their skills according to their abilities.

Couple of minutes after lunch we welcomed Ms. Laguarda, a school psychologist who came here for the first week to get to know the rookies, help the boys adjust to being away from home, and to make sure that they are well here. She will be in the camp for the first and fourth week and during those times is going to talk individually to each of the boys.

We finished the day with dinner, first group discussion followed by the group activities and the first part of the first movie - "Remember the Titans". Lots of "firsts" today...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The First Day

The first day in the Camp Monserrate just came to the closure. All the campers are sleeping peacefully surrounded by the sounds of nature. The sleep is well deserved. After 6 hours of riding a bus we arrived a little bit after 3 pm to Lake Placid, greeted by the Reis family, and all the counsellors. After an hour of different games which helped the campers and the counsellors to get to know each other better we got to know who is going to be in which cabin. This year, because of much larger number of campers Cabin 2 was brought back to life. The time before dinner was spend on getting to know cabin mates and unpacking the backpacks and suitcases.Another people who welcomed us here were Val, and RoseAnn - two cooks who will take care of al our meals. The burgers which we had for dinner were disappearing quite immediately. After dinner there was time for a Sunday talk in which the Camp Director - Mr. Staysniak explained how important the camp is. The talk was followed by group activities and another meeting in which all the campers got to know the schedule and rules which are to be followed here. We finished a day with a prayer in the chapel. Tomorrow will be the first day run according to the usual camp schedule.
I'd like to share also couple of my own reflections at the end of this post. After teaching in Nativity for two years, being a counsellor in the camp last year, today's trip brought me back many memories. I am happy to be here to take some photos, write few posts on the blogs and spend some time with this great community, From the very morning I could feel the special spirit of the camp, eagerness of the rookies to get all the things right and excitement of the veterans to help them with it. It seems like a good start for a very succesful summer. There are already some pictures from the departure and from the first day up in Lake Placid. Hopefully there are more to come. You can check them out here.