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!