On Thursday morning, as the student campers arrived and stepped foot onto the campgrounds, the cold sand maneuvering under their shoes and the brisk air wrapping their hooded faces, Westfield Friends Middle School began its thirty-hour overnight stay in the woods.
We were there to live out our school theme We Seek to Create an Earth Restored. Morning activity began with some ice-breakers for the counselors to get to know our students, and for our students to shake off the common habits of suburban living. The students were then given their cabin assignments and time to set up their bunks and beds. The top bunk was the popular choice. Then, lunch was served: warm tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The afternoon activity brought three rotations of activities: team-building challenges, ropes course, and canoeing. Each group cheered each other on. Students gained insight on communication, resilience, and leadership. Spirits were high and remained high throughout the stay. The evening meal was chicken and pesto. Afterward, we gathered together around the campfire, made s'mores, sang songs, and students took turns telling ghost stories. The campers returned to their cabins, some of them took showers, and they settled in for the night. Lights out by 9 p.m.
The next morning, with the rain still scattered throughout, the students enjoyed French toast casserole, cereal and yogurt, and some orange juice. While there, we wanted to carve out intentional time for the Meeting for Worship, so we gathered together in the gazebo. The students thanked the camp, the counselors, and each other for the time spent away. In the silence, a deep appreciation and satisfaction, a sense of unity.
In our last activity, students were given a voice and choice: fishing off the dock or canoeing to Kirby's Mill. Most of them chose the canoeing adventure; however, a few chose the stillness of fishing. Our Teacher Friend Josh and his boat were capsized during the trip. Drenched from head to toe, Josh was a good sport about it. We finally gathered together one last time in the dining hall for lunch. We gave a warm shout-out to the staff for making the stay enjoyable and engaging.
Looking back on the weekend, the Middle School team and I have our cups filled. We are warmed by the thoughtfulness, unity, and collaboration that occurred. For many of them, they had to choose courage over comfort. In the end, we truly could not ask for anything more.