August 8, 2018 by Stacy Tell
July 31, 2018 by Stacy Tell
Mealtimes are a defining element of the Tripp Lake Camp way of life. Campers are adept at quickly ducking to avoid the clapping hands and movements that accompany their calls across the room. The floor shakes ever so slightly as the bouncing rhythm of a cheer erupts under our feet. Quiet is simply not the name of the game as the girls are celebrated for passing a swim stroke or singing in unison to applaud a successful overnight trip. Though I love the spirit that echoes (literally) throughout the dining hall, one of my favorite parts of the meal comes towards the end. Yes, dessert usually comes around then, but there’s something even sweeter. Within the first couple days back at TLC, I admired how campers and counselors alike were giving a ‘shout out’ note to one another in recognition of hard effort, teamwork, and kindness throughout an activity or game. In reflecting on the recent upshot in ‘shout outs,’ it has now led me into another ‘Stacy mantra’ about what we hope the girls will take away from their summers spent here.
The values that we hope to instill in our young women at Tripp Lake Camp are not overtly posted on the daily schedule. Lessons of empathy, compassion, kindness, active listening, compromise, and independence are just some of the social-emotional skills naturally intertwined into our everyday interactions here at camp. As administration and staff, we recognize these as teachable moments, positively reinforcing good behavior and redirecting comments in moments of tension. Yet, it is when the girls begin to take the reins for themselves that remind me of the role models and leaders they have the potential to become. It’s the forward thinking of eleven-year-olds who were initially feeling frustrated with a particular bunk mate, but who then paused midway through their conversation with me to consider why their friend might be feeling a bit off. It’s in the care and tenderness with which a fifteen-year-old slips her arm around her best friend as they walk to the office for phone call, simply indicating that her friend doesn’t have to be alone. It’s in the generosity of a seven-year-old bringing it upon herself to go to the ‘Lost and Still Lost’ and corral her friends to help return missing items to all the girls on campus.
You may have noticed our social media feeds overflowing with vivid images of our Tripp Lake campers participating in the Camp Kindness initiative. In partnership with The Kindness Evolution, Tripp Lake was one of eleven summer camps selected to encourage intentional kindness and care through a series of activities and exercises. The founder of this program, Wendy Messing Gilbert, is a TLC alum, and her group arrived in Poland in team color regalia! Watching our campers decorate rocks with encouraging phrases that are now scattered across the camp grounds, noticing the conversations they had with their advisor or counselor about inclusion and respect, and reflecting what makes both camp and themselves special placed an incentive to continue to build on these experiences. I mention our dining hall earlier because whether or not they are aware, the amount of ‘shout outs’ received during mealtimes has grown exponentially since this visit. To have almost too many ‘shout outs’ of support and encouragement for one another…not a bad problem!
July 25, 2018 by Stacy Tell
I’ve got to tell you… I came into Friday and Saturday’s visiting day goodbyes at Tripp Lake Camp primed with Kleenex, an open hand, and my ‘special hug super power’ that ‘shakes away the homesickness.’ I was ready to run interference for girls making a fast break to the parking lot (hey… it could happen!), and coloring pages were set up in my office available for easy distraction. I’m recognizing now that my recollection of visiting weekend may have been slightly skewed by my own ten-year-old memories of homesickness. Of course some tears, a bit of anxiousness, and the call for ‘one last hug’, accompanied the visiting day goodbyes. Yet within the span of the two hours that followed, they had quickly subsided. Our three fabulous head counselors, Sam Menzel (JR and AJ groups), Megan Watson (SUB, Inter III, and Inter II age groups), and Kimberly Summerfield (Inter I and SR age groups), had organized a camp-wide scavenger hunt that included finding different objects around camp and obtaining signatures from counselors that met certain qualifications such as, “The one who traveled the farthest to get to TLC” and “The one who has worked in multiple departments.” The energy was high and the laughs were plentiful as the campers raced around with the members of their age group that are on their big team in order to earn points for our end-of-summer Shield.
We continue full steam ahead into exciting events, trips, and activities both in and out of camp as we lead into our fifth week. Our 1AB campers are currently sampling different types of maple syrup in Quebec while the Senior Is go biking through Bar Harbor. The Inter Is have just returned from Camden, Maine, and the Inter IIs are getting their PFDs and oars ready for a white water rafting extravaganza. The AJ age group took their mini-golfing talents to Seacoast Adventure Park, and had ice cream treats afterwards. But it’s not even like we have to leave camp for the fun to continue! The Inter IIIs participated in their Big Team Tennis Tournament early this morning, with vibrantly colored visors and tennis skirts to accompany their rackets. The SUBS are in full dress rehearsal mode for their performance of “Robin Hood” in two evenings time. Finally, our youngest campers reveled in their own ‘Special Day’ afternoon, a time just for the Juniors to participate in treasure hunting, blue cupcake decorating, and fishing. Are you sensing the underwater theme?
I’d like to finish up with a quick visiting day anecdote. In the midst of goodbye hugs, a mother made her way over on the way to me near the parking lot. Her daughter, new to camp this year, is having an incredible summer, engaged in activities and constantly smiling. The mother said, “You know, I see the photos everyday on the website. She’s riding horses, she’s doing gymnastics, and her smile is a mile wide. Yet it wasn’t until I stepped onto the grounds that I really understood the genuine happiness she gets out of being here at Tripp Lake. It makes me wish I had known about this place as a girl. I saw the pictures come to life.” Hearing words like that allows me to look at our campus through you, our visitor’s eyes, and appreciate the role we play in watching your daughter embrace a new activity, attend an event with girls both older and younger, or take on a new opportunity. On behalf of our entire administrative team and camp staff, we hope you enjoyed your visit to Tripp Lake!
July 16, 2018 by Stacy Tell
Let me tell you a story about a roving Tripp Lake Camp reporter, a young correspondent from our very own camp newspaper. Armed with a clipboard and ‘press badge’ in hand, she asked if I had some time to answer questions for an interview. This adorable nine-year-old of the AJ age group was furiously scribbling not only my answers, but also her own questions so that she could recall them later. As we rolled through my list of favorite candy canteen items and activities at camp, she giggled at one of my responses… ‘8:15 PM.’ A time? Well, this was the answer that came most instantaneously when she asked me about my favorite part of being at Tripp Lake Camp. This young camper asked me to elaborate, and I’m going to share my response with you.
I make it a point to come through campus in the evenings, to stop by the bunks and say goodnight to the girls. After a day full of activities and special programs, and once the line at canteen has been shortened, they begin to make their way back to the bunks. I have always loved the circular campus that has existed since Tripp’s founding, and I applaud the original owners for their foresight in envisioning a shared space for all of our girls. There is something so uniquely ‘Tripp’ to the sight of campers doing cartwheels across the grass, laying out towels for card games amongst the age group, or gathering for a quieter conversation on the benches at the head of campus. Yet what is truly remarkable is the way I watch a six-year-old comfortably making her way across the campus to visit an eleven-year-old and her group of friends. Our older campers truly do an astounding job at making our youngest and newest campers feel safe and welcome here at camp. Whether it be a relative, an assigned big sister, or even a newly met acquaintance at cookie line, their warmth is sincere and their smiles are genuine. Throughout the day, you’ll hear greetings amongst the girls, listen to inquiries about an activity, or witness a quick hug at the lunch tables. Building off of an established culture from when they were once learning to navigate camp, our Inters and Seniors recall older campers taking them by the hand to show them around, or to be that shoulder to cry on in a moment of homesickness. I myself remember the glowing feeling of my Climber captain coming into my bunk at night to give me a hug. The fact that this 1AB camper, clearly so much older, wiser, and taller than myself, had taken the time to see me, could not have felt more special. It’s such an innate sense of who these young women are, and it requires little prompting from the adults. Just last night, we had our juniors and seniors cozied up in their pajamas paired up for a summer highlight event, our Junior/Senior BINGO tournament. Shouts of “clear the board” filled Cliff House as rounds were completed and prizes were distributed. Meanwhile, our AJs and Inter I campers were playing kickball on the grass behind campus against the setting sun. For a little girl, there is something extraordinary about connecting with someone who has experienced all of the same emotions as you, in the same space, that establishes a sense of trust and friendship.
Now, it’s probably worth mentioning that after taking in my long-winded answer, the camper wrote, “8:15 PM. Stacy goes and says goodnight to the campers. She likes that campers look out for each other.” Not a bad summary for a budding journalist!
July 12, 2018 by Stacy Tell
I continue to find it remarkable that we fit so much into our days here at Tripp Lake Camp. From the second your girls hear the reveille call, to the moment their heads hit the pillow, the hustle and bustle does not end. Athletic drills are practiced, banana boat rides take course, pottery wheels are spun, and cheers are… cheered. Though your head may spin just reading about it, to us it’s simply the norm. One look at the shirts of our seven and eight year old campers, and the chocolate stains will reveal whoopee pie creations in culinary arts. Our nine year olds are scooting around each other’s legs to be the last ones out in the Gaga pit. Ten year olds are leading their Little Teams with spirit and energy as they rotate amongst the sports fields for team practices. We have always taken pride in the well-rounded nature of our program, yet we also keep a continuous ear out for ways to supplement the schedule in a way that meets the current interests of girls today. Partnering up with professional coaches and outside programs allows campers to opt out of their regular schedule. We would be remiss to not mention the teachable moments and lessons that build from these experiences.
QUEST Intensive arrived back in Maine earlier this week! This talented New York City dance troupe has teamed up with Tripp for a couple of years now to provide studio sessions for our campers that focus on different forms of performative expression and movement. Upon hearing about their arrival, a twelve-year-old camper approached me while sitting under the trees. Though she expressed that she did not feel like she was the ‘best’ dancer in her age group, she was still interested in attending some of the sessions. She also made it quite clear that she had no interest in the culminating performance that would occur in OTW a couple of days later. I listened to her talk about how she enjoys dancing but dislikes performing, and I simply advised her to enter the classes with an open mind. Though I explained that the decision would ultimately be hers in the end, allowing herself to simply be in the moment with her friends and partake in what was meant to be a fun experience could surprise her. Throughout the four-day stay, I popped into our dance studio and gym house multiple times. It was hard for my own self to not get swept up in the blasting music, the shaking hips, and the complex choreography. Each girl was encouraged to take the moves that had been provided and add their own ‘flair,’ setting a supportive tone that encouraged each girl’s individuality. I watched as this same twelve-year-old worked up a sweat, and the smile was genuine as she listened to the instructors and improv’d some of her own moves. I was then not surprised to find her name in the program for the early afternoon performance. When touching base about it later, she expressed that she was simply having too much fun to let her stage nerves get in the way of finishing up the program on solid footing (I know, me with the puns…)
But, of course, that is not all! Mike Turtle, owner and director of Soccer Specific Training in New Jersey, has been coming to Tripp for the past eight years to train our girls in their soccer skills. Many campers play either for their town or school teams, and hope to keep up their level of practice during their summers. Running well-structured, fast-paced, and exhilarating intensives is what Mike has become well known for on our fields. Well, yesterday he took the game to a whole new level. Perhaps bolstered by the current World Cup excitement, the entire camp made their way down to the large soccer field to play, referee, or spectate a Round Robin soccer extravaganza! We had three games going simultaneously, and teams of six playing in ten-minute rounds versus one another. Finally, we reached our final two teams to play for the championship! To see the entire camp supporting one another, writing up signs for their camp sisters, and embracing the competitive spirit was exactly what camp is supposed to be about! These girls with a passion for soccer were tearing up the sports fields.
In reflecting on these moments, I cannot help but feel pride in the opportunities that we provide for Tripp Lakers to cultivate their niche, and explore and discover new passions.
July 6, 2018 by Stacy Tell
The heat is on repeat here at Tripp Lake Camp, as we have continued to weather this stretch of hot days with some exciting modifications to our routine. (I know, catching on to my wordplay is a breeze). Alongside our already established canoe/kayak, waterski, sailing, and instructional swim programs, the girls are jumping at every chance to hop on the banana boats and cruise around Tripp Pond, or to try their hand at standing up on paddleboards. These past few days also provided us the opportunity to break out the inflatable pools, the water soakers, and of course the slip n’ slide, for different age group periods. It then culminated in an afternoon ‘Beach Day’ celebration for all campers and counselors. Led by our Waterfront Director Janine Clarkson, the waterfront staff came together to orchestrate a fun-filled dive into our lake for some free swim time! Though we are now expecting the heat to break tonight, we’re proud of your daughters for showing flexibility, patience, and a great sense of fun in the midst of the humidity.
A frequent question that has crossed my path since arriving back at Tripp is the seemingly basic, yet actually layered query of, “What does it feel like to be back here at a girls camp?” Each time I’ve provided a fair response of how exciting this new opportunity is, how much I’m enjoying getting to know each and every one of your daughters, and that it smells a lot better than the boy world. However, I leave those conversations feeling that my response has never fully matched my own expectation, or the set of emotions I take from being back at the Promised Land. I think back to a conversation that I had during our pre-season with the ex-campers now working as full-time staff members. Eager to be a support in these conversations, I said something that fell along the lines of a weird reality that might settle deep inside their stomachs. It’s the recognition that camp continues to go on even when we’re not the ones sleeping in the bunks as its campers. Tripp is a living environment that is ever-growing, developing, and changing with the girls that are here and the interests that they carry… as it very well should. Whether it is restructured buildings, new activities, or the latest bright-eyed girls of 16A, 16B, or 16C, we are not doing our best work for the girls unless we are growing alongside them. Now, I can still picture the initial reticence on their faces as I brought this truth to light. However, I wasn’t quite finished yet.
Your daughters will reiterate that it is very difficult to describe exactly what that feeling, that x factor, that inherent ‘camp-ness’ is that draws us back to Maine each summer. I carry it with me each time I get asked that question about what it feels like to return. Though things change, there is a flipside to it as well. There are other moments that will strike the familiar bones in your body, which will tap into your memory banks that you’d forgotten ever existed. A particular one that comes to mind came within the first few minutes of watching our counselor talent show, where each act was transitioned by the campers jumping into a cheer: “Hey now, hey now, what’s up next now? Girls don’t you know that it’s…” I have to be honest, I hadn’t thought about that song in years, but one chorus later and I was immediately swept back into the bleachers with them, and I was singing clapping along…
July 2, 2018 by Stacy Tell
While it is often noted, it bears repeating that one of the beautiful outcomes of attending Tripp Lake Camp is that your daughters are able to enjoy the simplicity of their surroundings and develop friendships without the intrusion of the complex, technological world that encompasses their usual routines. I feel very fortunate that Tripp Lake now provides the backdrop for my habitual morning run. Running provides me a sense of calm in the midst of a hectic day, a period of time where my thoughts completely disappear, where fresh air and picturesque landscapes capture my attention. Just this morning, I laced up my sneakers and kicked up the pine needles as I set off along the towering trees and lined bunks of sleeping campers. I made my way down the road that leads to the Point, a ‘camp in’ site for some of our younger age groups, booked it behind Senior Row, and continued past Over the Wall. As the familiar sight of that shimmering blue water came into view, I recall a recent talk Janet Nash gave to our senior campers.
Janet, our associate director, is celebrating her fiftieth summer in the Promised Land. She’s taken in the same sight that I did this morning countless times, yet the admiration with which she speaks of it always sheds fresh light. Janet had gathered our Senior I campers together to discuss some of the logistics of Sing Song. Our fifteen-year-olds eagerly await their year, their opportunity to serve as a committee member for this special evening in Camp, and they spend much of their summer preparing five songs that will be sung in our theater. As a revered judge for this pinnacle event, the girls were intrigued to hear what tips Janet would provide. What mascots had to be named in the team song? How much harmony is too much harmony? While Janet was happy to provide that information, what truly gave the room pause was her description of how to write a quality camp song. Now, you don’t reach fifty years at camp without the knowledge and capacity to captivate an audience of chatty girls, and you could have heard a pin drop as she repeated the lyrics well worn in the Tripp Lake fabric. She paused with purpose to let the lines sink in, “Far above dear Tripp Lake’s waters / With its waves of blue / Stands a camp we all love dearly / Glorious to view.” As she spoke about the way this traditional song came to be, she mentioned how its writer, a former Head of Waterfront, wasn’t a songwriter. He simply took the time to jot down his perspective of standing on the swim dock, looking up the hill at the rest of the camp. It’s a sight that captivates our attention. It makes all of us recognize how lucky we are to be surrounded by this scenery as a permanent ‘backyard’ for seven weeks. It is beauty in the purest simplicity.
With respect to your girls, I can name up a dozen moments of beautiful simplicity just from this morning. It was the giggle of a Junior II whose ‘flip kick’ in soccer went slightly off course during her first team practice. It was the shy glance of an Inter III fiddling with her hair as she prepared for her first social with another camp. It was the head of a younger camper on the shoulder of her camp sister, off for a rafting overnight with her Senior age group. Unoccupied by the endless number of distractions that occupy our world, Tripp Lakers seize the chance to unplug, to communicate, and to enjoy each other. Combined with the spirit and energy that has arrived with the announcement of our big and little teams, campus has truly come alive! We now ask you, as their parents, to support our beautiful simplicity. Though it may be tempting to send an Amazon box stuffed to the brim with vivid color capes and fishnets, team mascot tchotchkes, and hair coloring, it is not what we require of your daughters as being part of a big or little team. While it is certainly all right to send a package with some team clothing for your daughters in the Inter through Senior age groups, we ask that you exhibit moderation, and support the values we set out to instill in the girls each summer. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
June 28, 2018 by Stacy Tell
Despite some rain clouds, we are still running a full-fledged program here at Tripp Lake Camp. Our art shops are a staple to the everyday program, and your girls have loved exploring our newly renovated building and all of its features. New activities, such as culinary arts and spin/fitness class are the talk of the campus. We give immense credit to our staff for stretching their creative muscles to make ‘Nail Salon’ with the Juniors, BINGO with the Inter III’s, and Spelling Bee Showdown with the Inter I’s as much fun as being outdoors. Spirits are high with the announcement of the four big teams – Climbers (red and blue), Giants (blue and white), Cubs (red and white), and Tigers (orange and black). Our youngest campers, in the JR, AJ, and SUB age groups, will learn their little teams soon. Just like that, we’ve come to the end of our first full week of camp!
In looking to the next week, it seems an appropriate time to mention that at this point, you have probably begun to receive your first batch of letters from your daughter. Details about her bunkmates and their really cool Croc jibbitz, about her counselor who takes the time to make her a personalized daily schedule, and about the items that may be lost, but are actually right on the shelf above her, will fill the pages. This content will make you smile. Yet, you may also feel your heart sink at the mentioning of homesickness, an activity that didn’t go as well as she’d hoped, a desire to know what she’s missing at home, or a misunderstanding with a bunkmate. Oftentimes, you’ll get a little bit of both! It’s important to recognize that by the time you’ve received these letters, a couple of days have passed and your child has most likely resolved the issue with the help of a friend or a counselor. It is also worth noting that in these moments of disappointment, it’s actually quite natural that she then selects that time to curl onto her bed and write a letter to her parents, the people she loves the most. Thus, only a snippet of the day becomes the narrative of the letter.
Please know that we are here to provide your daughter with the love and support she needs to take on these challenges, and we are committed to keeping you in the loop as well. We say this often, but it’s a fallacy to think that homesickness or an unfavorable team game is the equivalent to not liking camp. And if that’s not enough to convince you, take a look at the letter penned by a ten-year-old named Stacy… a young girl turned administrator!
June 25, 2018 by Stacy Tell
To say that we are in the full swing of things here at Tripp Lake Camp would simply be an understatement. In the span of seventy-two hours, your daughter’s schedule has probably already included hitting forehands at tennis, conserving her breath during the infamous swimming ‘rectangles’ test, walking through multiple art shops in our newly renovated art center, practicing chest passes in basketball, gaining familiarity with the hit song of her age group’s show in the theater, and of course, eating a cookie (or two). This is without even mentioning that each evening, we have made our way to Over The Wall for an entertaining counselor introduction, for Return of the Shield, and of course, for the Election of the Captains.
Oh, you didn’t hear the cheers from your houses? As we sat in the theater last night, the ground shook as our sixteen-year-old leaders were introduced to the camp, as eight nominations for captains were read, and as four young ladies were elected to lead our big teams. Throughout the entire evening, the looks on the faces of our Senior II’s radiated jubilance, energy, and a true love for one another that has been building since their first steps onto the Promised Land. It permeated throughout the room as our youngest campers watched the clinging hugs and arms placed right over left, quickly following suit and mirroring their new role models. As I reflect on this memory, I’m reminded of a story that I’d heard from a veteran staff member. Misty-eyed, she told me how she’d had these 1AB campers when they were juniors. As can happen, one of the girls had had a particularly tough beginning to her first summer, and there were a couple of ‘mischievous’ moments that required the close watch of this counselor. Fast forward to today; it is rare that her name comes up without being quickly followed by remarks concerning her kindness, maturity, and healthy sense of fun. It reminds us that camp is a remarkable setting for your girls to experience tremendous growth.
I mentioned the time span of seventy-two hours earlier because in the pace of it all, we sometimes forget to reflect on how much we’ve expected out of your daughters in such a short amount of time. We are asking six and seven-year-old girls, most of whom have spent no more than a handful of evenings away from home, to acclimate to the idea of sharing a living space with five or six other girls. We are introducing activities that may have never crossed a camper’s path, and asking them to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. We are balancing the gentle guidance of our instructors and counselors with the encouragement towards independence and self-reliance. Yet, as I watched that former camp trickster resting her head on her bunkmate’s shoulder in friendship, and I witnessed a throng of girls sitting on the grass in one large circle prior to the announcement of the captains announcement as a sign of their unity, it could not be more evident that Tripp is following through on the magic that it’s always set out to create.