Hi All! It’s Madeleine Mears. I can’t wait to come back to CRL for summer 2017 as head counselor along with Sam. This whole school year we have been planning for this summer. Camp has become my home away from home. As a camper, I have made many lasting friendships and countless memories while also becoming a leader. As a counselor, these past four years, I have been able to help mentor younger girls and make their experiences as rewarding as my own. I know how daunting coming to sleep away camp can be for the first time so I have created an insider’s guide all girls should know before coming to camp.
PACK BUGSPRAY! After over a decade of coming to CRL and hundreds of mosquito bites later I cannot stress enough the importance of bugspray. Even though it smells gross it is well worth putting it on as opposed to becoming a meal for the hungry bugs.
It’s okay to be nervous. I was eight years old the first time I went to camp for an entire month. I grew up outside Chicago so I knew no one at CRL. As soon as I arrived to camp all my nerves vanished. I was welcomed into the CRL family instantly. All the girls and counselors were so friendly.
Plan your gum supplies wisely. Camp is a strange place. At camp, the most valuable, tradable commodity is gum. The easiest way to land yourself a bracelet or rest hour massage is through a few pieces of precious gum. Bubbalicious and Extra are far superior to Trident and Juicy Juice for some reason so coming to camp with a repertoire of gum options is crucial to all girls living on Junior Hill.
Bring a few books to read. One of my favorite aspects of Summer is I have time to catch up on some reading. Now don’t go overboard with the books, I remember being 10 years old and packing close to 10 books with the unrealistic goal of reading all of them. Bring 1-3 books that you are interested in and most likely, other girls will have different books you will want to read as well.
Leave the makeup and hair products at home. Camp is the time to completely immerse yourself in your surroundings. The amazing thing about going to an all girl camp is that there is literally no one to try and impress. Unwind and look grubby!
You will get homesick. While this is very dependent on the personality of the camper, every girl is bound to miss home at least a little sometimes. Know that this is completely normal and you can always talk to a counselor or older camper about it. Believe me we have all been there! Maybe bring a few pictures of your family and pets to hang in your trunk. While it’s normal to be homesick, reach out to your cabinmates and get involved with games and activities. Having fun and laughing will take your mind away from feeling sad!
Both teams are AMAZING! Whether you’re a legacy to a certain team or are hoping to be on the same team as your best friend, know that whichever team you end up on is unique and full of amazing girls. Each team has special traditions and a strong sisterhood that you get to be a part of. To this day, I have friends from both teams and being on a different team as your friend isn’t a bad thing!
Don’t pack “normal” clothes. Every year I came to camp, I had the idea in my head that I needed to pack 4 extra outfits that weren’t green and white. I never wore any of these. Embrace wearing your Green and Whites and don’t worry about packing any nice or cute clothes because they won’t be used. Camp is the time to not worry about your appearance so don’t pack what you don’t need.
Battery powered fans are a must. Camp is HOT. The middle of July can bring about some hot days for camp and our ~rustic~ camp amenities do not include air conditioning. For this reason, bringing your own personal fan can greatly help you cool down after a long day.
BE YOURSELF. I cannot stress this point enough. Here at Riva Lake, we pride ourselves of how fun, different and steadfast our girls are. Having talents or strengths is what makes you, you and camp is the perfect place to show off all aspects of your personality. As a person, you have the potential to grow the most when you are being your authentic self. Never question if you don’t “fit in” because camp is not about being cool. It’s about being yourself. If it weren’t for camp I wouldn’t have the leadership skills nor maturity about certain things that I do today. We hope Riva Lake becomes your new home as it has before for all of us counselors and staff!
While this list is in no ways completely comprehensive it should be a guide to any newer (or older!) campers who may be apprehensive about this summer.