Blog Editors: Dominika (Poland) and Elizabeth (Pennsylvania)
Week number three at Camp Rising Sun brought about our second theme: Feel Good Week. It encouraged positivity and good attitudes through many fun activities, such as canoeing, slip-and-slide, a pool party and jewellery making. Each day the leaders decided on a different color scheme, which resulted in the Camp looking like a sea of sunshine. We also had our first Camp Prom on Tuesday. The relaxed attitude provided an opportunity for the whole community to let loose and celebrate the success of the second Variety Show to our favourite hits.
At the same time, this week was full of reflections. All of the campers had the chance to go on the hiking trip which was a very special experience. We are entering the single digits of the program, which is bittersweet for each of us and we can all sense the nostalgia in the air. However, we are not slowing down yet. We are all taking advantage of every day we have left here in the form of new projects, instructions, cultural meals, friends and much more.
One of the prominent Camp’s traditions is the hiking trip, which took place in the second and third week. Even though its form has changed over the years, it still remains a challenging test for each camper. During those three days spent in the old boys’ campsite we pushed ourselves out of the comfort zones. We sweated, we laughed and we had the time of our lives - all in the calm forest of Red Hook.
Each trip left in the morning, after making sure backpacks are packed and lunch is ready. What a strange feeling it was to leave the Camp, drive in an air-conditioned car, listen to music from the radio and see other cars and houses along the way. It felt as if we are abandoning the safe space which Camp has become to each of us and stepping into the wild world.
On the first day, our main task was to set up tents and discover the campsite. Raven and Dan, the Wilderness Counselors, organized a scavenger hunt, thanks to which we could see the whole place. A misty atmosphere surrounded our walk - Freddie’s building without a breath of life inside, the pool lacking water, the International Theatre gathering dust and dead bugs. It was difficult to imagine 60 boys running around that facilities just a couple of years ago. Nonetheless, the day was full of joy and energy, with groups making their first meal in the woods and sitting by the fire in the evening.
When it comes to meals, it is hard to find a camper who would not mention them as the highlights of the trip. There was something unique in the food preparation process. Campers could learn how to make the fire, later add all of the ingredients and stir it above the flames. To our greatest surprise, every meal could have been awarded with a Michelin Star. The food was simply delicious and cooking it made everyone enjoy the experience more. Moreover, many campers fell in love with washing the dishes in the stream which we had to do after each meal. Dear Parents, keep this in mind :).
Besides the culinary performances, the Wilderness Trip had a bigger meaning to it. It was a real test for our physical and mental boundaries. Sleeping in the shallows of the forest, getting bitten by mosquitos on every turn, not showering for two and a half days. We all knew it was not easy, but in that joint awareness we could find support. The trip was a great opportunity to reflect on things, redefine your own beliefs and learn more about yourself. We could finally stop and look around. The nature enabled us to relax and focus on catching the moment. One of the moments I will remember forever was when all of the hikers and counselor gathered on the Observatory Tower in the evening of the second day. We were singing some Camp songs while millions of fireflies were flying around us. Some of us were stargazing or having some deeper conversations, but for the most part we got closer as a community.
In that magical spirit we could return to Clinton, with some unforgettable memories made and even more energy for the rest of the time at Camp.
Staying Back at Camp
For the first three days of the third week of Camp, the second group of campers left on their own Wilderness Trip. Though there are many amazing memories and stories from the trip, being at Camp when only half of the campers remain is also a special experience.
Personally, I was excited for the opportunity to get to know everyone I had not spoken to much before. Many of us branched out and spoke to a variety of new people we likely would not have met if the entire Camp had been there.
That was the upside of being back at Camp while everyone else was gone, but it did not change how strange it was to just have half the Camp. Assemblies were shorter, getting food was easier, but in many ways, Camp felt like a ghost town. Tent hill was quieter, the dining room felt oddly empty, and it was weird not seeing all of my friends as we walked around campus.
Even then, I think all of us enjoyed the quiet and new opportunities. These three days served as a reminder to take time for yourself but also branch out and meet new people. Moving towards the end of Camp, I hope we can all take the lessons learned here into our last remaining days of Camp.
Emily, Second Year, Colorado
“Camp is an amazing place where I made a lot of memories, best friends, food and much more things. The past couple of weeks have been a great experience that I will remember for a lifetime. But at the same time, there is a lot of things that I miss about home that are not comparable. I miss the streets of Ramallah, walking side to side with my people, speaking my language, greeting everyone I pass by. I miss the arabic food, my cousins, my friends, and most importantly, My Family. I am patiently waiting for this moment where I will hug each and every one them, tell my mom all I have done here, showing my sisters and brother all the pictures that I took, and having father-daughter talk every morning. To me, there would never be any place in the world that I could love more than my Palestine.”
“The thing I miss the most while being at Camp is my family. I am the oldest and I have four younger siblings. I am so used to being around them or my parents. This is my first time on my own. It is awful not seeing them for almost a month. Sometimes homesickness makes me isolate myself from other campers. Due to it I am not allowed to fully enjoy the experience of being here and bound with others. However, I attempt to distract myself by talking to different people, saying ‘Yes’ when asked to participate in activities and making sure I am occupied at all times.”
Jenny, New York City
Yesterday I spoke with a girl who
measured the distance between herself
and her home like there was so
little separating them she carried its
entire weight wherever she went. Another
told me there was a rope tied
between the two- and it was tugging
her so much in the direction opposite
from where she was going it almost
snapped her ribs, like her mother felt
so close she slipped like water
through her open fingertips
She spoke, like she was looking into
an empty mirror and the wrong word
would shatter its glass, reflecting
just the weight of everything else
Listening to this I watched my own rope,
with each breath remembering how it used to match my pulse. You
cannot imagine how it feels
to have your heart pull itself
out of its own chest every other
moment. After she left I looked into the mirror, hoping that it
would steady my breath
like my own rope was no
longer something to hold, and
I found nothing there and
nothing anywhere else
until, with the red marks I had
pressed permanently into my skin,
holding myself together, in
my own body I saw it
Emily, 2nd Year, Colorado
People Behind The Scene
Camp is a pretty busy place. We all wander from projects to assemblies, from instructions to meals. Every day is strictly scheduled, so that no time is wasted and the program is running smoothly. Sometimes though in that business we tend to forget about the ones, who are the basis of that big machine. In that piece we want to focus on the people who are the Camp’s backbone, without whom the days would not be as unproblematic.
Raina: Medical Director
How did you get involved in Camp?
“I just graduated from Bard College, so I was looking up jobs in the area, ‘cause I wanted to stay here for the summer and this one popped up. It seemed a cool opportunity to me. Working with kids was something I wouldn’t think I would be interested in, but it is one of the best things.”
How does the international community affect your work?
“Sometimes there is a little bit of communication issue with me trying to figure out what the signs and symptoms are and translating medications, but other than that it is not pretty different.”
What is the most challenging part of your job?
“I think it’s just managing up to 90 people at a time, but I’m really glad I have an excellent staff this summer making everything manageable.”
What do you enjoy the most in your job?
“Definitely the conversations with campers that come in to the HAWC, who are just overheated or have just some SST before they have to go to their projects and they come to hang out and we have really deep conversations about either things they have experienced or questions. Last summer a camper would just leave a list of random questions, to which I would answer on paper and give it back. We talk about everything. It’s really cool to talk to you guys, especially to the people who have different point of views or experiences.
James: Head Chef
How did you get involved in Camp?
“I saw a job posting and I applied for it- haha. It’s not that crazy, miraculous of a story.”
What interested you about it?
“I did a camp last year- it’s a pretty good job. I’ve been doing some more seasonal work lately, so camps are good for the summer.”
How does the international community affect your work?
“It affects the work pretty greatly, because here, unlike most places, you got like ten percent of the population is Halal, which, when you’re doing percentages in the kitchen, I have to worry about pork a lot more than anyone else. I don’t find it much more different than working with just regular, typical, American people. Everywhere you work you’re going to have to find ways to you know, compromise.”
What is the most challenging part?
“I think the most challenging part is trying to balance between stuff that makes what we do fast and having things fresh and homemade and all that. You have to kind of find a mix between the two so you can still get good food product but not have to be working ridiculously long days.”
What do you enjoy most?
“I like cooking the food. I mean, I really just do enjoy cooking the food- cooking good, honest food. But honestly, I mean it literally tastes good and that's what it’s for.. There's nothing really super fancy about it, it just tastes really good. The campers are fun, the coworkers are fun, but when it comes down to it I just like giving people good food so they can go, ‘wow this is the best food I've had at a camp and all that. So yeah, I would have to say just cooking the food is my favorite part.”
Cameron: Camp Facilities Supervisor
How did you get involved in the Camp?
“Well, I was sort of between careers and a friend of mine knew a guy, who worked in Red Hook. He said “Hey, the Clinton camp is looking for a caretaker”. So I quickly applied for the job and got it. I got hired in the winter and next summer, my first summer at Camp, I realised that Camp is awesome. It’s totally cool. I loved it, and that is why I have been around for eleven years.”
Which part of your job is the most challenging?
“I have to take care of the place all year round, but the most challenging time is during the Camp season. That is when all of the things are going on. I get most frustrated during projects time, because I can’t help everyone as much as I would love to. I can’t be at three places at once and to me that’s the most challenging, because I want to be able to accommodate everybody and you just can’t.”
How does the international community affect your job?
“It makes it better, because meeting people from all around the world every year and you get to learn about different cultures, their societies, how they think, how they act, what they think about America and what we think about them. It affects my job in a positive way. But in terms of travel bans and immigration, it’s not okay. I know it kept some great counselors away. For example, Gbenga from Nigeria had a lot of trouble getting a visa. It does not affect my job, but still- it’s sad.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
“The same thing that’s the most frustrating: projects. I like helping kids and I have the opportunity to do so through projects. It’s so refreshing to know that someone might never have a chance to build a Lean-to, cut wood, use the nail gun and chainsaw. That is the best part of my job I think.”
Since we first arrived at Camp three weeks ago, we knew that we would one day, in a seemingly distant future, be changing tents. When week two passed by and we remained with our familiar tent-mates and counselor, the concept still seemed foreign. Two days ago, on day 18, it suddenly happened. The list was finally released and campers rushed to the bulletin board to see where they would be living for the remaining ten days and with whom. Soon, Tent Hill was once again in transition; giant suitcases being hauled across the grass, sleeping bags, sheets and pillows being transported, and new friendships already being formed. No matter what initial thoughts we may have had, the change in scenery was an important step in our community moving forward. It forced us to once again to step out of our comfort zones, have conversations with new people, and adjust our attitudes. These are all skills encompassed in Camp Rising Sun’s core program, and the tent change was a chance for us to become re-in-touch with why we are a here.
Bajo la cama
Se esconde un monstruo
también llamado Conciencia
que no me deja dormir
Me dice que me quede
que las estrellas están muy bonitas esta noche
Conciencia no me deja dormir
Como una rutina, uno o uno
sacude los sueños de mi cama
y los estampa en la pared.
Algo dentro duele, no me deja dormir
Camino (o lo intento)
pero al mirar(me) bajo la cama
la conciencia me ata.
Ya no quiero dormir.
Deshago las sábanas
Miedo y conciencia huyen
(ahora soy yo la que tiene mi poder).
Me pueden llamar inconsciente
pero al fin
he conseguido darme cuenta
que no quiero dormir.
Andrea, Second Year (Spain)
This Week’s Instructions:
Swimming 101: Katie (New York), Elizabeth (Pennsylvania)
Chinese Calligraphy: Amy (China)
Feminist Killjoy Survival Kit: Counselor Raina (New York)
Refugee Crisis: Counselor Jaime (Spain)
Computer Programming: Counselor Shannon (New York)
Forest Exploration: Claire (New York)
Turkish and Egyptian Culture: Vera (Turkey), Nadia (Egypt)
The College Method: Talia (New York)
Stage Combat: Remy (New Jersey), Counselor Weronika (Poland)
Leadership vs. Management: Counselor Andor (Hungary)
Korean: Jimin (Korea)
Handball: Iris (Sweden), Melina (Argentina), Teresa (Spain)
Sign Language: Jewell (Colorado), Noora (Finland)
Bond: Rebecka (Sweden), Sarah (Italy)
Altruism: Counselor Tom (Germany)
Welfare State: Natasha (Denmark)
Songwriting: Jamiah (California)
Quantum Mechanics: Counselor Justin (New Jersey)
Syrian Conflict: Debi (New York)
Origami: Kanon (Japan)
Chinese Pen Covers: Amy (China)
Culture and Diversity: Counselor Mariama (UK)
Beaver Dams: Counselor Cameron (New York)
Beginner Guitar: Jenny (New York)
Jainism: Priya (Texas)
Volleyball: Jacqueline (Zambia), Omanie (New York)
Running: Mia (New York), Gorgeous (Utah)
Flower Wreaths: Counselor Olivia (Colorado)