On my very first day of working at camp, we went to Brown County State Park to eat pizza and get to know each other a little better. As we left, we got to watch this gorgeous sunset. I remember thinking as we left, “if the sunsets are always this beautiful, and the people are always this great, I’m going to really love being here.” Now, I’m finding myself at the sunset of my time working at camp, and I can say truthfully that the sunsets are dazzling and the people are even more so.
I have been thinking often about my impact on camp and vice versa. Truthfully, I don’t really know what my impact is on camp, and it probably isn’t really up for me to decide my impactfulness anyway. However, the things that have made an impact on me and helped shape the person that I am now could fill one hundred blog posts. Since I’ve only been allotted this one, it’s hard to know just what to say. So I came up with this self-prompt: if I literally absorbed the things I’ve been exposed to at camp, what would I be made of?
We can start with the tangible things: creek paint, sweat, lake water, creek water, dirt, mud, gravel, chocolate milk, dust, leaves, pollen, grass stains, face paint, sawdust, tie-dye dye, campfire ash, and chicken taco drippings. When we move into the intangible is when it gets a little harder to narrow it down. There’s the feeling I got the first time I heard someone say, “this is so cool!” There’s the feeling I get when I look in the passenger mirror of Gus the Bus and see all of the Adventure campers sleeping after a big day in the cave or on the water. There’s the feeling I get watching someone exceed their goal at high ropes. There’s the feeling of singing camp songs over and over until you sing them in your dreams. There’s the feeling of campers remembering you when you go on school visits or when they come back the next summer. There’s the feeling of being complimented on your Chaco tan. There’s the feeling of walking through the woods and hearing nothing but the birds and the breeze floating through the trees. There’s the feeling of worrying that this Jump Shake Your Booty is finally going to be the one that breaks the bench, sending all of you tumbling to the floor. There’s the feeling of watching relationships grow over a day, a weekend, a week. There’s the feeling of meeting thousands of new people and learning from all of them. There’s the feeling of watching the first wildflowers bloom on the forest floor in the spring. There’s the feeling of starting a lanyard on the first try. And there’s the feeling of singing Take Me Home, Country Roads on the last night of camp.
I think, out of all of that, if I’m even a little more faithful, fun, joyful, brave, humble, knowledgeable, compassionate, or generous than I was four years ago, then it probably has to do, at least a little bit, with being steeped in the amazing environment that is CYO Camp Rancho Framasa.
Thank you for everything,
CYO Camp Rancho Framasa has long been in the business of getting people outside. Well, it is not as much of a business model as it is part of the mission. The research is staggering that being outside does a human a world of good. Back in the nineties we started camp’s first outdoor education programming. It has evolved through the years and most recently, until a year ago, the structure mimicked what you might see in a classroom… a teaching, sharing facts, something to read and something to write…only all this was happening outside at camp.
What changed in this last year? Two of our staff members received a grant to attend a BEETLES’ training. With a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of eager to learn they attended a weeklong institute to learn how to teach in the outdoors differently. We fondly refer to this as Beetle—izing the curriculum.
What is BEETLES?
From their website:
BEETLES is Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing
BEETLES has the following beliefs, ideas, and values:
We use best practices in science education to inspire wonder and curiosity about the natural world.
BEETLES resources are built around five primary design principles.
Engage Directly with Nature
Think Like a Scientist
Learn through Discussions
Experience Instruction Based on How People Learn
Participate in inclusive, equitable, and culturally relevant learning environments
We see BEETLES as a perfect fit for us and our participants. The goal is to get kids excited and build confidence around science learning and what better way is there than experiencing in it firsthand at CYO CAMP?
So, we have been stepping into the BEETLES model of outdoor teaching and it works! If you are planning a trip to camp either summer or school year you may notice this change and we think you will like it.
Here is what one group had to say about their BEETLES experience after being at CYO Camp:
“I loved climbing up the hill and building a fire. I loved the bones of the different animals. Skipping stones and painting faces with the rocks was educational. We were able to tie so much of this to Indiana history and the way of life with the Indians.”
“I loved the freedom of just letting the kids run and explore... They had a blast on the slide and just running in the woods.”
“I feel like the entire experience was magical to these children. Many have never been in the woods before or gone hiking so the joy to be in such a space was a gift for me to experience.”
Interested in knowing more? Click the Beetles link: http://beetlesproject.org/about/ and/or sign a group up for camp!
Angi K. Sullivan
Camp is such an unique experience! Our staff take turns sharing their perspectives of the experience that is CYO Camp Rancho Framasa!
Hot off the press…
Subscribe to CYO Camp Rancho Framasa Blog by e-mail.