On a particularly cold, rainy, sleety, icy, snowy, grey April day (remember all of those!?), Field Marks sat down with Summer Camp Co-Director Carrie Riker to talk about NBNC’s longest-running program. Here’s what we learned while magically transporting ourselves to the season of sunshine and green.
What’s your favorite thing about being a summer camp director?
I love seeing kids — both those I’ve worked with during the year and those who are totally new to us — with huge smiles on their faces as they get to spend entire days outside going on adventures. Both summertime in Vermont and childhood are short and precious. I get to help kids do exactly what they should be doing in summer: adventuring, playing, and learning outside. It’s so great to get to help kids remember or learn how amazing nature is!
NBNC has been offering summer camps for 24 years now. How do you keep it fresh?
Camp Co-director Ken Benton and I hunker down in the middle of the winter to brainstorm new themes for camps. We have oodles of curriculum resources here but also encourage our staff to bring their own ideas and lessons in. One fun new camp this summer is inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books, which I’ve been reading recently. We’re going to make corn-cob creatures and campfire cooking deliciousness like Laura made. We’re pairing those ideas with a “build a village” concept kids love.
What led you to offer NBNC’s first-ever girls-only camp?
Well, it’s not actually our first-ever: Sandal Cate led a camp for girls years ago. Sometimes girls crave a place for outdoor play and learning with just girls. Families requested it, and we’re excited to offer a primitive skills camp: The Way of the Willow, for all kids who identify as girls.
You changed up the age ranges so now kids entering 4th grade are in the oldest group of campers. What motivated that change?
From parent and camper feedback and just observing registration data, we saw that rising 4th graders wanted to move up. Now they’ll get to be with older kids and have access to different activities with higher complexity and detail. These camps also travel further off-site.
Tell us about the camp staff, who gets to teach and play with kids this summer?
In addition to myself and Ken, our Americorps Member Zac Cota will be finishing his service time with us. We’re also excited to have Forest Preschool teacher Harriet Hart increase her camp time to four weeks. She’ll be doing several preschool camps and also Way of the Willow. We’re also hiring some new-to-NBNC folks with backgrounds in environmental science and outdoor education.
What’s the Campership Fund, and who benefits from it?
Seeded by the Agnes M. Lindsey Trust, this fund grows with contributions from families who add extra to their registration payments. It provides several partial and full scholarships to families who could use some extra support. We want our programs to be available to all and so greatly appreciate all contributions toward this fund.