Last Day of Camp

Summer Camp is bonding.  It’s a memory builder.  The little things stick and accumulate, and become part of a big piece.  And, that big piece is important; it shapes the good stuff, what really matters, like developing a sense of wonder, a sense of humor, and compassion for others.

I know this to be true.  I’m the one who is there to witness the good stuff.  This is what happened on the last day of camp:

  • Goldie the hermit crab molted, and we all thought she had died.  Nope, a new baby Goldie was growing deep in her shell.  She was pink and tiny.
  • We added new verses to the great camp songs, and even used ‘voices’ when we sang.  We love camp songs!  Here we are, crazy as ever:

  • Jayden, the wizard of puzzles, was reluctant to be in the play.  Low and behold, he was the star.  Where did his booming voice come from?  Who knew?  Oh, how we cheered!
  • Ethan went down the big water slide!
  • Getting a trophy for coming to camp for four years and doing all four themes… and the tears of joy.

We plan a play performance for the rest of campers each session.  Children write the entire script and pick their own costumes.  Sometimes we “Army crawl” down the hallway to the storage room to sneak past everybody.  I say, “Is there anything in here you need?”  Even shy Kevin found a piece of brown cardstock paper and carefully cut out a small triangle for his tail.  He felt like a king.  So simple, yet hugely important.  The children think they have been given the key to a candy store.

I never underestimate the creativity of children.  Their ideas are far better than mine.  Here are a few photos and the plot of the play:

Frog, water snake, fairy queen, castle guard.

Mermaid, swan, mermaid, castle guard, frog.

A fairy queen lived in a castle with her twin babies who cried all the time (of course I went to CVS to buy binkies for the babies- they loved it).  They wanted a pet.  The fairy queen took them deep into the forest where they found a frog.  The frog wanted to be their pet.  As they went back to the castle, they passed the river and saw a swan, two mermaids, and two water snakes.  The swan was training the water snakes to swim, one snake on his back, and the other snake on his belly.  Back at the castle, the babies were taking a nap and the fairy queen was cooking dinner.  Two robbers came to steal the pet frog!

         ~Intermission~ Lights. Camera. Action.

Children decided to do individual skits: Esme danced to the “Mission Impossible” theme song.  Caylee quickly took off her mermaid costume and did gymnastics in her leotard.  Peyton did the hula-hoop.  And, Aedan sang “Raindrops on Roses” from The Sound of Music.  You could have heard a pin drop.

~Back to the play~ Lights. Camera. Action.

The mermaids saw everything, and warned the fairy queen that robbers had stolen the pet frog.  She called for the castle guard.  He summoned the ninjas to capture the robbers.  But, the ninjas needed the help of the police.  Together, they used a spider robot to find and scare the robbers.  They captured the robbers, handcuffed them, and put them in jail.  The police and ninjas then returned the pet frog to the fairy queen and her twin babies.  And they all lived happily ever after.  -The End-

It was a huge success!  When children are given the reins, freedom to make decisions, and plenty of encouragement, the results are remarkable.  This is a mantra of my teaching.

Laughing is always a big part of camp.  Sounds little?  Well, it’s not.  We all know laughter is the best medicine; imagine what it can do as part of every day, spontaneous and contagious.  Kind of like a vitamin for the soul.

And me, the counselor?  I probably laugh the hardest of all.  I have a big list of if only… for teachers, because all the good that happens in camp can also happen in the school year.  Even the littlest moments are part of something big.

If teachers could allow children to have some input in the learning process.  If teachers encouraged questions and discussions, even if was a little off-track (sometimes that’s the best learning).  If teachers really listened to children.  If teachers read aloud all the time.  And, if teachers said to their students at a random moment, “Have I told today you how much I love you?”  At the very least, giving a crazy, spontaneous, no-reason hug.  Works wonders.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Imagination, play performances, self esteem, Singing, summer camp, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Last Day of Camp

  1. How wonderful, Jennie. We don’t have summer camps like this for children and it is a pity. Sounds like a great experience.

    • Jennie says:

      It is, Robbie. For some children it’s the highlight of their year. They go back home to “life”, hang on to the summer camp memories, and return the next summer. Wonderful. Thank you! 🙂

  2. beetleypete says:

    I have never experienced Summer Camp. It is not something done here in the UK. So, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it, or not. But from seeing your post, it looks like it could be fun.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I think you would have, Pete. Over here there are so many different kinds of summer camps, from living in the woods, to sports, to art, to theater. The big difference is that school in the UK isn’t off all summer. Therefore, camps aren’t as needed. Interestingly, the ‘old-school’ camps are still the same as they were in the 1920’s and just as popular. Two month-long sessions, cabins in the woods, archery and riflery, swimming and rock climbing, arts and crafts, evening skits and songs. A great learning and life-shaping experience.

  3. What a wonderful post, Jennie! I loved your description of the kids’ creativity and joy, but my favorite part was your conclusion. It’s so very true! I really wish more teachers would remember the “if onlys’! – Susan

  4. Ritu says:

    Wonderful Jennie!!! Summer camp sounds amazing!

  5. John Fioravanti says:

    Sounds like a blast, Jennie!

  6. What bliss it must be to be a child under your care. I envy them and you can tell them!

  7. Darlene says:

    Sounds like a great time for all. I just completed a one week Writing and Book Camp in Vancouver, Canada, where I was a workshop leader. We had so much fun and the kids loved learning about different writing techniques and applying them to their own writing. The creativity was amazing!

  8. Jennie says:

    Sarah. Aww… that’s so nice. Thank you, Sarah!

  9. Norah says:

    This is lovely, Jennie. I really enjoyed the video. But mostly, I enjoyed (and agree with) your list of “If”s. 🙂

  10. Reblogged this on The Writers Desk and commented:
    Read about one of the best teachers I have ever met, and even though it has been a cyber meeting, it is and always will be unforgettable.

  11. You are a gem, Jennie. Though we have never met face to face it is an honor to know you. Hugs.xo

  12. Jennie, what a charming video of you and the children. To love and be loved – shows on everyone’s face and those children know how much you love them and they you too!. As Salpa58 says, you are a Gem, and very rare too! Karen 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      Actually, that’s not me. I am taking the video of my campers singing with the camp director. She’s a hoot. Thanks so much, Karen. Yes, to be loved. That’s what it’s all about. Like you, Patricia is such a dear. 😊

  13. L. Marie says:

    Brilliant, Jennie! I love your teaching mantra. It’s so evident that the children enjoyed their time at camp and were encouraged to use their abundant imagination!

  14. Dan Antion says:

    So much wisdom in that final paragraph, Jennie – job well done!

  15. srbottch says:

    Look at the happy faces in the singing video. Nice work, Jen. Hope you had a great summer.

  16. Jennie says:

    Thanks so much! A good summer, but it has flown by way too fast. 🙂

  17. What a fantastic and meaningful experience! This is wonderful, Jennie!

  18. Sounds like great fun, Jennie. The song was cute and the play even cuter. I love the imagination and the way you let them be creative. Enjoy your final days before the start of school!

  19. Loved the video with the exuberant children and you! How could they not love going to your summer camp? So much fun.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Marlene. Actually, that was not me in the video. I was recording my campers doing their favorite song with our camp director. Can you believe the play they wrote? Wow! So glad you enjoyed the post! Camp is a blast- as it should be.

  20. ~M says:

    Jennie, if only you had been my teacher… I love your energy and enthusiasm with the kids and you’re teaching style is one of a kind amazing!!! 😉

  21. MC Clark says:

    I agree…you are a gem, Jennie. If only all teachers were like you.

  22. Absolutely delightful, Jennie! Have a thriving Thursday!

  23. Di says:

    Hello Jennie,
    Again another brilliant look at your life with your little students.
    What imagination as you said, when it’s able to flow freely.
    Just beautiful, thank you 💐💕

  24. reocochran says:

    I love your “if only’s, Jennie!”
    I also enjoyed the unscripted intermission!
    The story was cute and fun had by all was totally priceless. Beautiful how the quiet puzzle maker was able to find his booming voice! 😁

  25. Sounds like a very successful camp time, yay!

  26. ren says:

    I never went to ‘camp’ and have always wondered what it would be like. Now, at 60 years of-youth, Jennie has taken me to ‘camp’ for a wonderful experience. Complete with Binikies. Thank you.
    In return, I would like to say…. all those IF’s for teachers are soon to come true. I fully believe that ‘school’ is transforming into a system where children will lead the studies and the older people will be there to assist them in their heartfelt desires of discovering life and sharing love. Hugz to you, Jennie

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Ren. So glad you enjoyed your camp experience 🙂. I do hope that the “If’s” come true, and schools can allow the children to be part of the learning. Best to you!

  27. dweezer19 says:

    My youngest son’s fourth grade teacher was constantly frustrated with his tendency to question things. Once she admonished him in class, saying, “We are not p,aying the ‘Wht if’ game.” She also had a thick drawl and could not pronounce certain words. Her mispronunciation of Br-mil-li-ad as Bro-mil-laid caused every child to miss it on the spelling test. Yet she would accept no responsibility. I have had a mere handful of teachers in all my sons’ years in school that I felt were there because they evn liked childrenor teaching. I don’t envy teachers these days with a lot of what I see of basic child rearing at home and yet, if it is your chosen profession I think you need to at least like children. Thanks so much for being the jewel that you are. Fortunately my youngest had a teacher such as yourself in second grade. She chose to motivate him rather than pigeonhole him and he went on to do very well. I sent her flowers. 🌹

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for sharing this terrible story and all your wisdom behind it. On our first day back at school every year, we teachers are reminded by our director that we’re not here for the money, we’re here for the children AND their families. I first started my blog because there were so many wonderful moments of teaching in my classroom– I had to share that with parents, teach parents. It’s a good thing! I also wrote letters to those few teachers who made a difference in my children’s lives. Had to, of course. Best to you.

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