August 7, 2008
The 62nd annual Music Night was held in the barn last night. Decorated with hanging hearts and twinkling white lights, the barn was a veritable dreamscape of love! Campers entered the barn to the strains of 1920s and '30s jazz by pianist du jour Mrs. C. (who spends a portion of year performing as guest pianist aboard the Cunard ship Queen Elizabeth 2). We had a cappella pieces, an inspired Romeo and Juliet spoof by the Otters, a playful skit about Greek gods by the Eagles, a two cello and piano trio (Grant, Jesse, and Nurse Katy playing Vivaldi), several camper-written songs (Suchi and Rosie), and an assemblage of rag-tag musicians on sundry instruments. Some absurd; some lovely; some surreal, some raucous and rowdy. It was an enchanted evening.
August 6, 2008
Each year the CITs join forces to transform the Barn into a magical performance space for Glen Brook's very own game show. Trivia Night 2008 had a Dr Seuss theme, the backdrop of the stage featuring eight-foot-tall panels illustrated with popular Dr Seuss books. And everywhere were Truffula trees, turtles, Once-lers, Things One and Two, barbaloot suits, and, of course, the diminutive but forceful Little Cindy Loo-Hoo. Competition was fierce as teams pondered such questions as "How many pancakes does the kitchen produce in a summer?" (Answer: about 2,000) and "How many chimneys on the Main House?" (Answer: five). The winning team: Dimitris's Devious Dellers.
August 4, 2008
One of the most exciting - and physically demanding - activities at the camp is the annual Iron Camper competition. This is a quad-athalon: swimming, kayaking, cycling, and running, a grueling course that takes campers, literally, over the river and through the woods for many miles. The first event is a swim across the lake, of some 300 yards. Then the swimmer returns by kayak and then runs up the Lake Path, only to jump on a bicycle behind the Rec Hall. Cyclists then race uphill to the Ropes Course, around the hayfields, and then fly downhill for a circuit around the lake. The final segment is a three-mile run through the woods and fields of the camp. The event is "challenge by choice," meaning that campers can sign up for one of the elements, all of them, or none at all. But each year we have an impressive line-up of athletes, boys and girls of all ages. Yesterday's solo winner: Eliana!
July 31, 2008
A surprise dropped from the sky during yesterday’s rest period! Waken from their midday rest, campers, staff and CITs came out to see what all the excitement was about. Word around the camp quickly spread that a helicopter landed on Glen Brook’s upper field near the gazebo. Enamored with this mechanical wonder from above, the campers enjoyed an up-close examination of all things aero-dynamic and asked myriad questions to our visitor from the Lorden Lumber Company of Milford, New Hampshire. Before he departed, Waterfront Director Leon got to take a quick ride above Glen Brook’s property and take some photos from above. Enjoy!
July 29, 2008
On Tuesday morning the Deer girls spent two hours with counselor Leah doing group challenges up in the hayfield. The first big challenge was a group jump-rope adventure, in which the girls all had to jump between a giant rotating climbing rope, taking turns hopping in and hopping out. The challenge was to get everyone -- all 15 girls -- through the rope with at least a single hop each, without getting tripped up by the rope. The beginning was a disaster. Very few girls could make a single hop without getting tangled in the heavy rope. They soon grew frustrated. But they persisted, encouraging one another, and pretty soon they were hopping rope as though they were fresh from a city schoolyard. Every single girl managed to keep rhythm and clear the rope consistently by the end. The next challenge was a simple trust-fall exercise, designed to get each participant comfortable with basic voice commands and to build a sense of trust in each other. The girls took turns, in pairs, falling backwards into each other's outstretched arms, after repeating a call-and-response exercise. The next challenge was a high trust fall, in which the entire group formed their hands like a large zipper while one of the girls, standing on a high rock, fell backwards into their arms. It was an exciting morning, and the girls' "debrief" afterward was a heartfelt exchange: fears conquered or understood; and thoughtful encouragement of strengths and weaknesses.
July 28, 2008
Each year Glen Brook's summer camp hosts a group of high school students in its counselor-in-training program. The CIT program is highly selective and requires a great deal of commitment on the part of each participant. The program seeks to nurture a sense of personal responsibility and teamwork through operation of numerous areas of camp life, from maintaining the buildings and grounds, to teaching lessons in daily activities such as swimming, stewardship, tennis, and archery. Following a summer at Glen Brook, each CIT graduate carries with him or her an array of skills that serves well later in life. Here, the CITs work with mentors Grant Butler and Joanna Dorman, fitting wood siding to a garden shed and staining an outbuilding.
July 24, 2008
And the rains came down ...
It's been a soggy three days here in New Hampshire -- nearly non-stop rain since Tuesday. The hike up Gap Mountain yesterday was a brief rainless window, with hikers stopping along the way to forage for blueberries, which are ripe everywhere. The Falcons took an exciting paddle down the Contoocook River yesterday also, getting a bit drenched by wholly enjoying the whitewater conditions. We practiced eddy turns (spinning out of the current into an eddy behind a rock), how to "ride the vee" between rocks (staying in deep water), and how to portage around "strainers," large trees that fall across the whole river. We had one wipe-out when Allie and Cassie flipped their boat after hitting a submerged stump. They stayed afloat thanks to their lifejackets and strong swimming, swimming safely ashore. The rest of the group, meanwhile, quickly pulled to the side of the river, secured their own boats, and -- without adult interference -- managed to right the swamped boat, drain it, and have the wet duo changed into dry clothes and back on the river in less than five minutes! It made the instructors proud.
Meanwhile, here at camp today, there's a game of touch football in the meadow led by veteran Glen Brook teacher Keith. Keith, who has been coming to Glen Brook since the 1970s, spends at least three weeks here each summer, on leave as a high school principal in Massachusetts. As the designated quarterback, he shouted out huts one and two as his teams scattered the rain-soaked field, diving, sliding, and sloshing around in the mud.
Above, camper Noah ducks and weaves to score a touchdown.
July 22, 2008
In his 2006 article "Shop Class as Soulcraft," essayist and scholar Matthew Crawford bemoaned an end to shop class in our nation's public schools and its, perhaps unintended, ramifications. This cultural shift away from vocational training in schools also coincides with a change in the world economy, in which equipment and machines are intended to be disposable. In the United States, at least, we are no longer an inquisitive, what's-under-the-hood culture -- and, instead, our schools are pushing our children to become "knowledge workers," those who sit at desks and not use their hands in labor, either for pleasure or vocation. As a result, today's adults often lack an ability to work with their hands, lacking the confidence and hard skills necessary for caring for a home, garden, or even simple machines. This creates, according to Crawford, an unease in the physical world -- a sense of disassociation with one's own hands and their amazing capabilities. At worst we risk breeding dependency and passiveness. Not so at Glen Brook! As these pictures attest, shop class is still an integral part of our program, and all campers have daily opportunity to carve, slice, plane, and otherwise shape wood into all manner of useful and artistic objects. Shop teacher Martin Somers, a graduate of New York Institute of Technology in Westbury, N.Y., instructs in the use of tools to children. Shop class, consequently, has both an aesthetic and practical value. The shop is always full of campers, and the joyful noise of hammers, saws, and sharp blades slicing wood is a constant here at Camp.
Pictured here are the Falcons (Adventure Campers) making canoe paddles and the Raccoons in wood shop class.
July 22, 2008
Camp Glen Brook's second session opened with the usual flurry of games and adventures: Knock-Out basketball in the Rec Hall, evening activity of Sticks and Stones, the Falcons building canoe paddles for their upcoming multi-day paddle on the Umbagog River, and any number of quiet conversations throughout the camp. For whatever reason the homesickness elf has stayed away, and all campers seem to have settled into the routines as though they were all old hands. Out my window this morning I see the Otters and Eagles playing soccer in the Meadow (boys and girls) while, out my other window, I see Farmer Robyn Rose with the Foxes in the garden harvesting salad for lunch.
July 17, 2008
This morning campers woke to find that the counselors had disappeared. Campers then went on a camp-wide exploration, led by our CIT team, in search of the counselors, who were found in various places and engaged in sundry activities. The theme was extreme sports. Two mysterious creatures were dressed in Spandex and "wrestling" (El Magnifico and El Scissoro). Another duo was neck-deep in mud; yet another was surfing on the pond. Campers needed to be first to gather the signatures of these extreme athletes to win the event.
Climbing Mt Monadnock
For more than 60 summers, Glen Brook campers have climbed to the summit of Mt. Monadnock, a more than 3,000-foot climb that is a challenge for even the most athletic adult. It was a warm day yesterday, but every camper made it to the top and enjoyed 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains to the north, and far away to the east, the jagged skyline of Boston.
July 15, 2008
Deer Ropes Course Adventure
Yesterday the Deer group spent another day swinging around the trees -- climbing ropes and belaying one another using their newfound technical skills. As posted previously, the Ropes Course teaches people basic communication skills that prove invaluable in the field (and later in life in their careers).
July 13, 2008
Thursday Night Square Dance
Each Thursday night the camp meets in the meadow or the barn, depending on weather, to swing and sway to the sounds of the band and at the direction of a square dance caller. This past week, with Nurse Katy pounding out reels and jigs on a piano from the back of the pickup truck while Daphne and guest musician Nathan played fiddle and guitar, we gathered in the meadow for a beautiful evening of music and dancing: Virginia reels, traditional squares, Red River Valley, and any number of group dances.
July 10, 2008
Eagle and Deer Adventures on the Ropes
Ropes course activities require trust, clear communication, and teamwork. The Eagles spent the class working together to ford “raging rivers” and safely maneuver over the dreaded “Glen Brook Electric Fence.” After focusing their energy through team-building activities, they settled down to learn how to tie some basic climbing knots like the figure eight, which they will use on the high ropes course next week. Building on the trust that was formed through teamwork, they practiced the basic skills of belaying. The Eagles are now ready to take to the trees for the first time!
Nearly all of the Deer are old pros at ropes course adventures from their Eagle year. However, this being a new year, we began their class with group challenges to reacquaint the campers with working as a group. Many of the challenges required heightened cooperation and teamwork because several challenges were performed without talking—an amazing feat for teenagers! The focus that they developed through the silent activities paved the way for Deer to practice spotting techniques that were then put into action on the low ropes course. Next week the Deer will explore the second half of the ropes course that they did not experience as Eagles, including the eagerly anticipated zip line.
Our new biodynamic gardens have been feeding the kitchen all its salads and vegetables this past week -- cucumbers, lettuces, Easter egg radishes, and myriad edible salad flowers that make each serving burst with color. Here the Eagle girls till, weed, and plant what might be the most scenic patch of garden in the world, a view of Mt. Monadnock visible behind them.
Here's farmer Robyn serving fresh salad, with help from Jake.
July 9, 2008
Arts and Crafts: Our arts studio -- called the Sugarhouse because the building is used as a maple-syrup factory in spring -- was scene to some fine puppet-making yesterday. Here the Fox girls show their progress: Eleanor with her half-finished felt duck and Lily with her white felt bunny.
Swim Class: Our waterfront director Leon manages to blend traditional swim instruction with water games that inspire children to love the water. A rotation at the waterfront yesterday involved one-on-one instruction of swim skills followed by jumping off the dock through a foam hoop held by instructor Yaan.
July 7, 2008
Independence Day at Glen Brook means a chance to celebrate one's freedom - by wearing silly costumes, playing group games in relay, singing campfire songs, and watching fireworks over the pond. Everywhere, the camp was decorated with banners and balloons. And following breakfast, campers went on a hike to the dam. Back at camp campers were divided into team colors and were soon sprinting and jumping and spinning around the meadow: on an obstacle course (make a bed with sheets, pillow and blanket; spin around with your forehead on a baseball bat ten times; run with a greased watermelon, etc.). Then it was time for the annual treasure hunt. Campers were given clues that led them to six stations around the 200 acres of camp property: the ropes course on the hill, beneath the canoes at the lake, in the garden, and even out on the raft in the middle of the pond. When all teams finished, they put their final clues together to solve a final riddle -- which led them to dig up a treasure box buried beneath the granite ring. (Each team received a bag of candy from the box.)
The Foxes, boys and girls, spent last night at the lean - to for a camp out down by the lake. They cooked their supper over a fire; went for a night swim, and then sang songs around the campfire. Today they're back in camp for their regular activities. The Raccoon girls, meanwhile, spent last night at the newly-renovated Ridge Cabin, where they, too, had a campfire and sang songs.
The Deer group established a new first for Glen Brook trips by successfully navigating the Connecticut Lakes of northern New Hampshire's Coos County. They saw moose and enjoyed life in the north country. They reported seeing no other people on the enormous lake and were enthralled by the "big sky" of the northern forests.
Falcons: They just returned from a three-day rock climbing expedition in Massachusetts; today they depart for the Schoharie region of New York for a three-day caving trip where they'll wriggle around in caverns carved by rivers eons ago.
Out the office window the otters are playing a game of sticks and stones, while another group is pounding on African drums.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wed., July 2, 2008:
Each Wednesday is Trip Day. Today, campers joined Mr. Braden for a jaunt up Gap Mountain -- a hill just south of Monadnock that offers imposing views from the top, of Monadnock's rocky south face, of Vermont's Green Mountain range to the northwest, and, far to the north, the jagged peaks of the White Mountains. On clear day we can even see the Boston city skyline. Most interesting to the campers, however, were the ripe blueberries along the path.
Now that camp is in full swing, and the last few bouts of adjustment anxiety have been washed away, the camp schedule is in full swing. In the barn yesterday, the Eagles practiced a set of improv skits -- using kitchen utensils and their imaginations. Counselor Ivan had them take turns performing their skits for one another. (This is all in preparation for their musical performance on Visitor Weekend, when all the groups will perform an original musical and theatrical production.) Yesterday during rest period I joined the Otter boys for a rousing game of "Sorry" (the French version, provided by our Canadian friends Michael and Mark, offered some challenges), but this writer is pleased to report that he triumphed over Dylan and Dawson.
The CITs earned a welcome day off today and spent the day at the New Hampshire sea coast. Meanwhile, the whole camp will have its weekly cookout at the lake tonight.
June 29, 2008: Opening Day
Campers and parents were greeted with lemonade and cookies under a shade tent in front of the Main House today. With temperatures in the 90s and the humidity just as high, Glen Brook's 64th summer season opened with high excitement. Counselors showed campers their bunks and introduced them to each others' cabin-mates. In the newly-planted biodynamic garden, myriad vegetables are ready for harvest, thanks to the Camp's new greenhouse -- and prodigious efforts by resident farmer Robyn -- so that our kitchen will enjoy a daily rotation of fresh vegetables, from mixed salad greens and tomatoes, to potatoes and green peppers. The staff even planted a new grove of dwarf apple trees and blueberry bushes this past week. Tonight we will have a picnic in the Meadow, since, so far, the thunderstorms have stayed away -- to be followed by softball and volleyball. The first reports from the waterfront: the entire Deer group passed its swim test on the first try. In all, it's been a happy and peaceful day, the perfect start to summer.
Please be sure to check this site every two or three days for photos and announcements of campers' many adventures this summer.