They burst on the scene with bags and backpacks, tennis racquets, musical instruments, bathing suits and rain gear, mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents in tow, and even a perky pooch or two to see them off. They had big smiles, butterflies in their stomachs, and unbound energy. And we were ready for them!
We dream of Camp Chewonki opening day all fall, winter, and spring, and when the time comes, it feels a bit like a festival–all hands on deck, all departments in full swing, the whole place in motion. Program directors, counselors, and trip leaders are at least as excited as the campers and trippers stepping onto Chewonki Neck.
Wilderness Trips Coordinator Jen Adams recalls one of the many moments that made Tuesday a great opening day. It took place on the boardwalk outside the Center for Environmental Education. Adams was greeting a couple of returning trippers here for the Maine Appalachian Trail backpacking trip. “The girls were being really polite,” she says, “but as we talked, I noticed they kept looking past me, through the trees, straining to see the other trippers who’d already gathered with their leaders. They’d recognized some of the girls who went on the Allagash Canoe Adventure with them last summer and they could barely contain themselves. I finally just said, ‘Okay, go!’ Seeing how excited they were was pretty wonderful.”
Camp kickoff reminded Boys Camp Director Charlie Fear how entertaining campers can be. Fear was hosting guests for lunch; two sibling campers sat down at the table with them. In short order, the younger brother was delivering an in-depth, expansive lecture about trains to the guests. The older brother rolled his eyes. Trying to set both boys at ease, one of the guests said brightly, “I’ve never heard this before!”
“But I have,” groaned the elder boy. “I’ve heard it every day of his life!”
“One of my great moments from the start of camp was watching the Explorers 2.0 [girls in their second summer of this Girls Camp program] as they settled in,” says Girls Camp Director Emily Bell-Hoerth. “Two campers, in particular, were so excited to take off for their trip that they wore their PFDs [life-preservers, in old lingo] all evening, from the time they got fitted until after dinner was over. Safety first!”
Thanks to all the families, staff, and, most of all, campers and trippers made opening day 2019 so much fun.