1st Term was full of fun, memories, friendships, bonds, personal growth…. and a few surprises along the way! Every year you never know if there will be anything out of the ordinary, a surprise if you will – this could include a high river, a crazy storm, or a medical situation…. Well, 1st Term had ALL of that this year, luckily this is nothing we haven’t seen before!
As I mentioned in my Staff Training blog, we ended up having to delay 1st Term by two days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among staff. We needed the extra couple of days to get the majority of the counselors out of quarantine and back in action, while also giving the rest of the staff much-needed rest to make sure their immune systems were in top-notch shape. So 1st Term had an exciting start, from the very beginning!
Luckily we dove right into an amazing session like we’d never skipped a beat. The campers and staff quickly got into a groove and immersed themselves in camp life.
Fun in the Sun
For the most part, the weather 1st Term was mostly great. Lots of sunshine provided for our normal outdoor activities to take place as usual. We enjoyed Campfires, Vespers, 100th Anniversary celebrations, Crab Soccer, Blue/Gray competitions, and more! The JCs (Junior Counselors) were initiated and got to see the Purple Palace, we had an awesome July 4th Carnival with fireworks that evening, and our final Campfire of the summer, Babies Boats, was as special and sentimental as ever.
But we did have a little surprise on the final Tuesday of the term, and that was a crazy hail storm that came through our area! We were fortunate to be in the Dining Hall during dinner when it came through (and campers/staff in Drama were in the Play Hall, having eaten dinner early to prepare for that evening’s Drama Show).
The sky got dark as night as we watched it roll in, and then came the thunder and lightning. All of a sudden hail was coming from the sky! I’ve only seen hail one other time at camp, and it was after Family Camp, when almost no one was in camp. So this was a new and different experience for Term Campers!
The power did go out, which at first startled some campers, but we equip our larger buildings with “Lights Out Boxes” in case this happens. The counselors jumped to action – some getting the flashlights out of the Lights Out boxes, some comforting startled campers, and the rest starting fun camp songs to keep everyone distracted from the storm and engaged in camp life!
It was toward the end of dinner by that point, and dessert was able to be brought out with flashlights. Our Site Manager, Garrett O’Dell hurried over to camp to get our generators going. We waited until the storm died down and then had all campers walk directly to the Play Hall to get ready for the show.
The Show Must Go On!
We didn’t have time or space in our calendar to reschedule the Drama Show, and we weren’t sure when the power would be restored anyway, so the Drama Show still took place! We set up strong flashlights from back stage as well as from the audience so that the stage was well-lit for the actresses. The campers did exceptionally well that evening! The plays were fun and enjoyable, and honestly, after a while, we forgot that we didn’t have traditional stage lights on that night.
And at the end of the show, as the storm finally dissipated and blew off to another location, the sky took on an amazing orange hue that was the subject of many photos that night. A reminder that storms are fleeting and there is beauty at the end of a challenging situation.
The power was restored 24 hours later and the rest of the session continued on!
COVID Strikes Again
Well, the same night of that storm, we had a camper test positive for COVID, and after that a few more tested positive throughout the final days of 1st Term. We were quite discouraged by this, believe me. We felt we had done our very best to keep COVID out of camp, but again, just like during Staff Training, this variant finds its way in regardless of how hard you try to keep it away.
Unfortunately, a handful of campers ended up going home a few days early due to COVID, and another handful tested positive upon returning home. For this, we are truly sorry! It was not the way we’d hoped to end the session. It made for an interesting start to 2nd Term (that blog is coming soon!), and we learned a lot through various discussions with our medical staff and other camps dealing with COVID outbreaks. One thing I always make sure to do is to learn as much as I can from any challenging situation so that if or when it happens again, we can navigate it even more smoothly.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Overall, despite these hiccups along the way, ‘Ghany Girls always persevere, and in the end, 1st Term was a smashing success! Nothing in life is perfect, so we can’t expect camp to be. The best we can do is ensure we have a solid staff and leadership to navigate these challenges as they come up. And in the end, there were way more positive moments than challenging ones!
When 1st Term came to a close, we had just as many tearful goodbyes on Closing Day as we usually do – campers not wanting to leave, not wanting to say goodbye to friends, thankful for the memories and the time they had together. So here’s to another great session in the books, and we look forward to seeing all your 1st Termers back at camp next summer!