Autumn in Fairlee, Vermont brings a different mood to the summer camp properties of Aloha, Hive and Lanakila. The long, hot days of July and August have become cool and bright, with frosty mornings and vividly-colored leaves. The hillsides and waterfronts are mostly quiet. The summer of 2010 is now a memory for hundreds of campers, but the summer of 2011 is already a gleam in all of our collective eyes. Although the canvas tents have been carefully folded and stored, the canoes, sailboats and kayaks moved indoors and special summer buildings buttoned up against the forthcoming winter, the magic of a summer at The Aloha Camps is still in the air. More significantly, the magic of summer camp for girls and boys continues in their imaginations as they settle into the rhythm of the school year, with its busy days of classes, athletic practices, music lessons and weekend extracurricular obligations.
When children return home after a summer at camp, the setting left behind is frozen in time in their minds. For a Hiver, the treehouse where a tent sleepover was held waits attentively for the next overnight adventure. Vikings from Lanakila must imagine that the Viking Ship remains on her mooring, just off shore, ready for her next voyage. At Aloha, the fire in the Woodchuck Hole, figuratively and literally the center of Aloha, burns bright in the mind of the Aloha maiden. Meanwhile, at The Aloha Foundation we have begun to enroll the campers of 2011, the directors receive staff applications and consider themes for the summer ahead.
Michael Thompson, PhD, a psychologist specializing in children and families, writes a blog about camp, “Homesick & Happy,” which addresses the timeless magic that a successful camp is able to create for girls and boys:
Finally, if camps are successful, they create a private world with its own rules and rituals and magic. Deep down, all children not only yearn to be Harry Potter, they want a Hogwarts; they want to have their own harrowing adventures with no (apparent) safety net. Suburban life and school doesn’t provide children with much of an arena for adventure or their imaginations. Camps have the ability to create that world that belongs only to a child and his or her friends. Now that is magic.
We often hear our campers tell us how hard it is to explain what makes their camp so special when they return home. Friends from school do not understand the significance of the places, the experiences, and the special people. The world of Aloha, Hive or Lanakila cannot be easily explained because the magical moments, places and people exist in an environment that is created very carefully to be a place of wonder and innocence for children to explore, embrace and flourish on their own terms.
We look forward to rekindling the magic in June, 2011.