This is an exciting summer for Sherwood Forest. It is a year of transition and change as construction for our new Dining Hall has begun and we’ve welcomed a new Camp Director.
One week into camp, we caught up with Sherwood Forest’s Camp Director, Rachel Tutwiler (RT), and Assistant Camp Director, Kareem Deanes (KD), about how camp has been going and what their hopes are for this summer.
What are you excited for this summer?
RT: I am looking forward to kids having breakthroughs with how they handle conflict. Boys often resort to physical approaches for solving problems. The staff at camp is working on having conversations with campers where they develop conflict resolution and problem solving skills. They can learn from a problem instead of just reacting to it.
KD: I am looking forward to watching our campers slow their pace and have meaningful conversations with each other. When you go to school you have to rush between classes, but at camp they are able to have a leisurely stroll and catch up with friends. There’s a lot of positivity in that space.
What looks different at camp this summer?
KD: Camp looks different because kids are being asked to move around camp differently. There’s construction in the middle of the camp space, but the kids are being resilient and mindful as they navigate through camp and plan their days. Part of our planning is helping them get better at planning.
RT: Another thing that’s different is that we’ve expanded our STEM program which includes adding a required activity time for 4th and 5th graders. We were worried that we might face resistance from campers not wanting to participate, but instead we’ve found that the kids are excited and interested.
KD: We also added an additional activity period each day for a total of four activity periods. They now have three periods where they choose and one specific to their grade level.
RT: This year we also added Village Days. Instead of campers choosing all of their own activities, they choose as a Village and move through the day as a group. This gives villages a chance to bond and work on what their village needs. For example, 3rd graders are spending time at the pool because as a group their counselors have noticed that they need additional help with swimming.
What are some of your favorite moments from the first week of camp?
KD: For me, it’s been seeing kid’s transformations. At the beginning of camp, we had a conversation with a kid who was ready to leave camp and already had his bags packed.
We let him know that we were there for him and that camp would be a positive experience if he wanted it to be. He responded by saying he “was curious why people who don’t know him at all cared about him so much.”
After that moment, I could see the walls come down and he started to understand how camp could be a positive experience for him. Now he’s like a completely different kid.
RT: I’ve really enjoyed watching the moments of laughter.
We had a Trivia Night for our evening activity the other night and we played music throughout the whole thing. Kids were so engaged and so excited to be a part of the action. They wanted to hear what was next.
During Trivia Night, a kid started dancing to music from Lilo and Stitch. I got nervous that the kid might get made fun of, but instead the other boys were excited and supportive.
It’s awesome to have those moments, where you remember what it’s like to be that age and the fear of others not accepting you, but instead seeing it turn out the other way. It’s great to see the kids developing their own relationships and making healthy decisions all on their own.
Anything else people should know?
RT: This summer is one with a lot of learning and it’s important for our community to know that we’re growing. The kids are growing but also the staff and organization are continuing to grow as well.