Today the June mini campers arrived. Wide-eyed with anticipation and excitement literally bursting through the sunroofs of some cars, it was clear these girls were eager to start their summer at camp. Our drive-thru check in process unfolded smoothly with each stop only taking a couple of minutes. Driving around the lake and finally reaching the top of the hill, the counselors jumped and cheered, adding to the festive atmosphere of the day. The full-session girls carried on with their Sunday morning schedule of flag raising and Chapel gathering, but they too were excited to see more camp friends arriving. By noon, a brief spot of rain came through, so instead of out on the hill, we gathered in the gym for a quick assembly. This was a chance to welcome everyone, have a few introductions, and sing a couple of songs.
I asked a few of the arriving campers how they felt, and while most said they were excited, several also said they were nervous. I tried to reassure them that being a little nervous on opening day was very common, even for seasoned, returning campers. Like the start of anything, there’s uncertainty involved, and if you care how something will go, it’s just natural to feel some nerves. Being nervous is just that, so once we get going and begin to dissipate the uncertainty that came before, everyone begins to feel better. At camp, feelings of nervousness fade fast as soon as we begin— finding our penpal, meeting our counselors, setting up your bunk, getting a sense of how kind everyone is at camp, seeing that there are all kinds of girls here and that it’ll be easy to fit in, hearing the enthusiasm in the camp songs, even tasting something yummy and familiar, like the mac-n-cheese we had for lunch.
The main event of the day happened after rest hour, just as the rain stopped. It was a Candy Land Carnival down on our grassy landsports field featuring two large inflatables, games, music and special food.
First the food. It was an excellent treat of freshly made mini donuts for each camper. Our local donut-making food truck, Jenny’s Mini Donuts, had come and was busy pumping out the treats. The campers took turns by cabin groups coming up the pink truck and deciding if they preferred cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar on their donuts. As you might imagine it took quite a while to make donuts for 200 campers and 60 staff members! But they were delicious, and definitely worth the wait.
Meanwhile, the carnival games and inflatables entertained everyone. Both of the inflatables involved a pool of water. The girls had come dressed in their swimsuits, and since the sun had come out, the afternoon heat made the final splashes feel great. One inflatable was a steep slide into a pool about a foot deep, and the other was a side-by-side obstacle course where two people raced through the course to the pool at the end. This was a little challenging, but doing it with another person made it more fun, and more entertaining to watch.
For both inflatables, crowds of girls gathered around to cheer for each person as they splashed into the pools at the bottom. Campers raced campers; counselors raced other counselors. Everyone got in on the fun. I’m certain lots of girls jumped back in line multiple times! A little messy and a little wet, they raced and raced.
One of the candy-related games was a life-sized Candy Land game spread across the grass. Teams of girls would “roll” a giant inflated die and move along a colorful trail of rubber mats. Like the board game, certain squares had effects whenever a team landed on them. For example, if you landed on Gramma Nutt’s square, you would have go back 5 squares. But if you landed on Missy Lolly’s square, everyone won a lollypop. The first team to reach the end of the squares also won a small candy treat.
Another of the games challenged the girls to toss inflated donuts onto a cone, which ended up being much more difficult than it sounds. Luckily, the girls could try as many times as they liked until they succeed to land a toss. Similarly, one game involved tossing beanbags at a target trying to get a toss through a small hole. That one too took some practice to conquer.
Throughout the event, the girls sang and danced along to some fun pop music with a few candy-related songs mixed in. “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow, and “Lollipop” by the Chordettes made a appearance, for example.
Under the sun, with friends, great food and music, games to play and treats to win, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and an even better way to launch our June Mini session.