Today at camp was both a disaster and an incredible experience. Torrential rain, raging winds, and sizable flooding made for a wet and wild day up at Charlotte. Surprisingly, to my team and me, we got through almost all of our lesson plan timeline.
As a team we did really well with fostering relationships with our campers, with staying positive about the weather in front of campers, with picking up where one of our teammates may have stumbled or got pulled into a different, non-leading role, and with our pre-prepared lab journals! As for things we needed to work on, our materials management (although partially contributed to the weather challenges) was not up to snuff, as were our group discussions, and school-y atmosphere. Our campers seemed to do extremely well in small groups (2-3 people) but once we met as a whole (6 campers and 3 leaders) they were surprisingly quiet.
I hate to blame the weather so severely but I believe that without the violent rain and wind we would have had much more fun with the campers rather than end up sitting at a wet picnic table all morning with them, which is what contributed so much to our school-y atmosphere rather than a camp like experience (which is what we aimed to achieve). Additionally our materials management would have improved without the chaos of moving shelters and avoiding incoming rain to the shelter edges. All in all, there are improvements that we as a team need to make.
Our campers are much more thoughtful than I had expected (which I feel bad for, but was pleasantly surprised by). A pair of girl campers that I took on for observations along the flooded beach were very aware of the massive amounts of drift wood and miscellaneous debris along the shore line brought up from the rough seas on Lake Ontario. While a few campers were particularly quiet or disengaged we did our best to ask the probing questions that brought forth their ideas and questions.
We were able to get a very low level model out of several campers which will hopefully lead us into our lesson for tomorrow in investigable questions and data collection. Our team’s campers were at a variety of levels as far as science content goes. This is understandable considering we have kids ranging from 6th to 8th grade, which is usually the timeline for when students are first introduced to science for the first, formal time in schools. Despite the difference I think we have a pretty cohesive group and that the younger students will be able to piggy back on the older students so that everyone can be involved and engaged.
As a team I would say we were very concerned about having enough time for all the things we need to do while up at Charlotte Beach but after how badly today should have gone compared to how well today did go, I think we’re in pretty good shape.
As for myself I think that I did do a good job with my small group work and helping to make campers feel safe and comfortable given the horrendous conditions. I think I need some work with maintaining my position as a leader (which is a fine line to walk in this case, given that we’re in camp and it’s supposed to be fun and friendly); several times during the day I found myself getting off topic and then struggling to get the group back on task and cooperative.
While all of this reflection on the team is helpful and significant, I think it is overshadowed (and slightly watered down) due to the fact that our group was missing more than half (5 out of 9) campers due to religious commitments. Tomorrow will be an interesting dynamic of integrating three different groups of people; the campers from today, the new campers of tomorrow, and the leaders. While unique to our camp experience, we are not the only team going through this, and I don’t think it’s something that is so significant that it will severely impact our plans for tomorrow. Nothing a great icebreaker won’t fix!