This summer 325 campers (and more than two dozen staff) enjoyed a mix of the old and new, the familiar and the novel, at Nature Camp. The first and last songs requested on the first day of First Session, and the last evening of Fourth, were “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “MTA”! Tetherball remains astonishingly popular, and the Big Mary’s Creek Valley still reveals the same insights and marvels that Nature Campers have been discovering for decades. Novelties this summer included a new hood and exhaust fan in the kitchen (thanks to the generosity of the NCF), a well received new recipe for fried chicken (which assistant cook Will Lounsbery-Scaife brought from a Korean restaurant in New York), and an already overused addition to the vernacular (“Yeet!”).”
Relatively brief but intense rain events seem to be the new norm at Nature Camp (we experienced at least one thunderstorm every day of the summer) and challenged our stormwater management system, but overall it was not as soggy a summer as 2018.
Other highlights included the presence of Camp alumna Emily Montgomery as our artist in residence for two weeks, during which time she presented a couple of participatory evening programs on nature writing and led some sessions to compose poetry in the woods. In addition, we enjoyed a visit by staff members from Island Press, who were eager to learn more about Nature Camp first-hand. They are now excited to share our story with a wider audience.
And speaking of a wider audience, we have seen a slight downturn in enrollment over the past few summers. We hadn’t had a full house in Fourth Session for the past few summers, but attendance in Third Session in 2019 was the lowest in nearly 35 years, and while retention of campers from year to year remains high, we do not seem to be reaching as many new campers as we once did. So if you know a young person (particularly someone aged 11 to 13) who might be interested in participating in Nature Camp next
summer, please encourage him/her/them to apply when registration begins on January 15. We have an exquisite new brochure that we are happy to share and are working on upgrades to our website. We continue to provide a meaningful, fulfilling, life-changing experience for those who spend any time in our quiet little valley. As one veteran camper wrote at the end of her session this summer, “I don’t know where I would be without Camp, but I know my life is better having been here.”
Thanks to all of you who are reading this for your part in helping Nature Camp continue to operate and continue to have the impact that it does.
To view the video by Island Press go to: https://islandpress.org/blog/nature-camp-summer-camp-unlike-any-other