Saturday, July 27, 2013

Camps and Champs

I had such a cute post title in mind for a week now... but the length of the "champs" post necessitates its own new post.  So - Camps:

Nothing says "summer" to me like a good camp experience.  I have fond memories of my time at camps - mostly overnight camp, but also some day camps - and if you've ever heard Jeff talk about his THREE week canoe trip at a camp in Canada, you know how much those trips shaped who he is today.  I am eager for my own children to build their own memories of summer camp - not so eager, however, for the overnight part.  Thus, day camps are the perfect solution.  This year, Aidan attended his second year of camp at Monticello, going to the "Jefferson Explorers" camp.  Although he enjoyed camp last year, he LOVED camp this year.  His favorite days were surveying and archaeology, but also enjoyed the morning in the garden, the tour of the house, making codemakers like the one Jefferson created, and tooling around with the camera obscura, another Jefferson contribution.  He bounded out of bed each morning, ready for camp, and returned mid-day full of a seemingly endless supply of information about the life and times of Thomas Jefferson, prepared to spend the afternoon enlightening us all. On the last day of camp, we all were invited to visit the classroom, sample the homemade ice cream that they'd made according to Jefferson's recipe, and see first-hand what the week was like for them.

This family shield was among my favorites that he created, modeled after Jefferson's coat of arms seal.  I love that he chose to depict a wise owl, and that he went to the painstaking trouble of adding beadwork to the leather straps of his shield.

Leo's week at art camp, hosted by the local parks and rec, was equally wonderful.  I was a little bit nervous about the camp for Leo, because I knew he'd have to love it to want to go back, day after day.  A good buddy of his from school did the camp with him, and the two of them had a fine time together.  The slightly eccentric art teacher worked hard with the kids, and I appreciate the authenticity of their work.  Although they used common objects like paper towel tubes and leftover chip containers, she taught them the gradual process of using paper mache to transform the object from its original shape into something better.  Leo created a totem pole (cat, dog, bunny, bottom to top respectively); a single bongo drum with a most pleasing sound (also decorated with the beadwork at the bottom); a Chinese lantern (not pictured); and a beautiful tie dye shirt.  At the end of the week, he said to me, "Mom, I wish school was like art camp.  I could go to school, do art all morning, be with my friends, then come home to you and have lunch."  Oh, buddy, I wish that too. 


The best part of the camps was, of course, how much they each enjoyed their time invested in their interests and quite apart from the rest of us.  But there were parts that the rest of us enjoyed as well, like the "two boy" weeks where Leo and Pax got some hours alone, and later, Pax and Aidan spent their mornings together without the mediating influence of Leo.  It was good for the brotherhood.  And for all the ranting I do here about gender stereotyping, I was thrilled to make two discoveries quite contrary to what I expected:  in Aidan's Jefferson Explorer camp, he was just one of two boys in a sea of girls.  And in Leo's arts and crafts camp, there were just two girls in a class of 8. 

The camp experiences also guided and influenced our home activities as well, as evidenced by the artwork we created, as well as a most decidedly delicious treat: homemade vanilla ice cream.  For as much of a Renaissance man as Jefferson proved himself to be, I'm afraid a Cuisinart ice cream maker would have done wonders for his recipe.  

Always the foodie, Pax wants to know if he can go to cooking camp next year...

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