Pre-camp starts on June 10! Here, veteran staff member Tweetie talks about why she loves pre-camp and what happens during those two weeks.
What happens at pre-camp, you ask?
Just kidding. But that’s pretty close! Pre-camp, like work weekends, is a time where the property belonging to Camp Cedarbrook ADK actually starts to look and feel like the camp we all know and love. The physical stuff is called “site-prep” and all other stuff is what I would call “bonding” and “learning.”
Site-prep – a few of my favorite examples:
- My favorite place to be in camp, the middle of the lake, gains a sailing dock. No, ma’am, that thing is not a permanent fixture. It is however, a heavy fixture. I was once sent with a few others to setup the sailing dock, but we honestly had no idea how to do it. But hey! A few hours later, after trying it the wrong way many times first, we had a sailing dock and even put together boats to go with it! It just shows that camp is a place where even staff face new challenges and try, try again to
- “The buggiest place in camp” (as it is lovingly referred to) gains a ropes course! Every summer, we have to set up and take down all of the non-stationary elements at the ropes course. You think doing one of the elements is hard? Try getting to the place in the tree where the element has to be stationed! Don’t worry – it’s totally safe. But again, it’s not without its challenges. The other thing that happens here is the ever-present job of spreading wood chips. Because of all the roots sticking up at the ropes course, it’s important to try to cushion the rough ground in this area of camp where there is much more of a possibility of not always landing on your feet when coming off an element, or just helping campers not to trip as they walk to an element. Be assured, helmets are always worn.
- Did you know there are over 20 fire spots at camp? Pre-camp site-prep might also consist of equipping those for when campers come! That means clearing brush, rearranging rocks, stocking firewood, or even building a new fire site! Don’t be surprised if you hear the term “beastly Cedarbrook women” MANY times during pre-camp.
- Cleaning cabins and washhouses. Would you believe me if I said that I’ve had an absolute blast while going around the divisions with a group of other staff and cleaning? Well, you should. Because with the right people, even cleaning can be fun.
- Since everyone, staff and campers alike, has a different personality, it is really helpful for us to spend some time in pre-camp learning about each other. We use different tools to determine what personality styles we all have, as well as the strengths and weaknesses that come with them. That way, we can hopefully troubleshoot any problems before they even come up and know how to best work with one another. Additionally, this helps us to understand campers’ different personalities!
- The different divisions at camp are all special and great for their different reasons, and camp wouldn’t be camp without one of them! But that’s just it – they’re different. We learn about levels of physical abilities in campers as well as common general traits. For example, if you’ve ever hung out with a
group of Trailblazer (finished 5th & 6th grade) campers, you know they’ve got nothing but energy! And Explorers (finished grades 9-11) can be much more relaxed and enjoy conversation.
- A vital part of pre-camp consists of rehearsing emergency situation procedures. Though most of these things haven’t happened at camp, and we pray they never will, camp’s policy is to be prepared in the event of an emergency. All staff have to know what their role will be in making sure campers will be safe and healthy no matter what.
- If you’re a counselor, there will be specific time set aside for you to bond with the other counselors in your division and your Division Director (DD)! It is important for this group of counselors to learn to get along, but also to learn to have fun together! Some of the joys of counseling campers are better when they are shared experience with other counselors. You get to
watch each other grow, fail, and succeed at lots of things over the course of the summer. Don’t be afraid of your DD, either. She’s there to help you! Chances are, you’ll all be closer than peas in a pod by the end of the summer.
- During pre-camp, counseling staff are placed in either cabins or tents that are not necessarily where they will counsel for the summer. For example, during my first summer, we all lived in the Challenger tents, and I was with counseling staff who were not in my division. IIt was cool to get to know them too, because chances are you’ll be leading activities with them during the day.
- The majority of camp staff is the counseling team. However, there are so many other people with other roles! Pre-camp is set up so that everyone gets a chance to meet everyone: the counseling team, leadership, program team, or support team. Take advantage of it!
Kelly “Tweetie” Turnbull is a Northern New Jersey native and a Penn State graduate and is now a 9th grade social studies teacher. When she’s not planning lessons, she enjoys traveling and is sure to pick up a cupcake from the nearest bakery. She has served as a counselor in both the Pathfinder and Challenger divisions as well as the ropes course specialist at camp, and loves to come back whenever possible!