I joined Camp Sea Gull in April as the new Program Director. Adjusting to my surroundings of a camp full of gentleman has been a great experience. The staff that I work with makes my transition easy, as they are talented, dedicated, and self-motivated to deliver programs at a high level. My co-directors take the time to walk me through the nuts and bolts of how to view Camp through the lens of a young man, so that I might have applicable context for bettering their summer experience. The number one question I have received during my time here thus far is “what are the main differences between the boy’s and girl’s camp?” I’ve narrowed my answer down to three instances where we could all learn a little something from Sea Gull.
If you’re wearing shoes, you’re moving too fast
Walk barefoot and slow down
Children need open spaces where shoes aren’t required. The boys have found a haven in Sea Gull, as you can get away sans footwear for the month, if that is what you’d prefer. Tyson Presnell, Head Counselor of Camp III, leads these young shoeless men with his example of toughened soles during every part of the day. After watching him stroll through the grounds and in the Mess Hall without even so much as a flip-flop for days on end, I’m not entirely convinced he brought shoes to Camp. I was so inspired by the throngs of shoeless individuals that I tried to forgo footwear for a day. I found myself choosing to walk a grass-filled path to every activity, and realized that I felt like I was on vacation in my workplace. I took time to stop and pay attention to where I was stepping and what was going on around me.
Build more campfires
Why stay inside when you can be outside?
One of the timeframes that I am responsible for monitoring as a director at Camp is Evening Programs. This takes place a few hours after dinner and usually involves an activity with your cabin or larger camp group. The Evening Program for the second night of first session was Cabin Night. Cabin Night means that you spend time with your cabin, usually engaging in a fun, team-building or bonding activity. Fully intending to spend my next few hours monitoring campers on cabin porches, I quickly noticed that every cabin was outside. I followed the flow of children to the soccer field, and then continued to trail about ten cabins as they meandered onto the point. There, I encountered cabins sitting in together around small glowing fires singing songs, learning cheers, or engaging in “get to know you” conversations. Campfires seem to be second nature for boys. A warm summer breeze coming off the Neuse, the smell of salt water, sunsets and s’mores…I had clearly lucked out. So I quickly joined Crawford Lewis, Assistant Head Counselor of Camp II, and an energetic cabin 17 for a marshmellow and some bonding.
Everyone needs a nickname
And it’s even better if it comes with a hand signal and corresponding sound
Almost every director, Head Counselor and Head Program staff member has a nickname. Not just a nickname though, as the best of these come with a corresponding sound and hand signal. For instance, take our Land Director, Rhett Smith, dubbed the “Land Phoenix.” Every time the Land Phoenix approaches a microphone, an onslaught of wing flapping and high-pitched bird screeching occurs from campers and counselors alike. For a moment, the mess hall is transformed into a large aviary. I was lucky enough to experience this first-hand as I watched my Sea Staff attempt to choose a nickname for me. It started with the “Water Bear,” naturally accompanied with a growl and paw-scratching motion. Then, it developed into the “Blair-acuda,” accompanied by a repetition of the chorus from Heart’s 1977 hit “Barracuda.” Now it exists as some mixture between campers calling me “Blair-acuda” and growling with the paw-scratching motion. I’ll take it. I have never witnessed so much excitement around my entrance into any area: sunfish mooring, zipline, golf course, tennis courts. If anyone is in need of a mood boost, come visit Camp during a meal and we’ll give you a nickname.
Camp Sea Gull Program Director