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Letters from Adahi: secrets of the Apaches at Camp Adahi

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webmaster | 07/26/13

Over the course of the last few days, I have tried to allow you to see Camp Fire’s Camp Adahi through the eyes of both a camper and a junior counselor. Today, I will be discussing what happens in my own tribe as myself — a junior/senior Apache counselor. Not quite a junior counselor but not quite a senior counselor either, I spend the week living with the oldest group of campers — the Apaches.

The Apache year is one in which campers begin to develop leadership skills and independence. The campers spend all day Sunday and Monday planning the ever-anticipated “Apache Games.” On Tuesday, at lunch, the Apaches stand in front of the camp and announce the theme for the games (which has been kept a big secret), and the entire camp is divided into teams with a designated color. This year, the theme was “Candy Land’s Amazing Race.”

One of the greatest aspects of the games is that they mix the whole camp up; younger campers get to know the older ones and seasoned game veterans are on a team with new campers. This allows the entire camp to intermingle and, as a result, become unified.

One of the Apaches mentioned that the games are kind of like going to Disneyland because they allow everyone to be a kid. This is a perfect example of what the Apache games do, and thus, truer words could not be spoken. The camp was filled with smiles and laughter last night as the teams competed for the highest award — Sweetest of All — with the Orange team coming out on top.

Each Apache is in charge of both developing a game and being able to present and explain that game to a group. The campers learn how to speak in public, how to adapt if something goes wrong, and how to be a leader. This is all in preparation for becoming a junior counselor next year. Your Apache year is really a year for learning — learning how to become a leader and how to present in front of a group. These are skills that will not be used solely for Camp Fire; they are something that campers can and will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

As a reward for their hard work with the games, the Apaches will have a late-night party tonight and celebrate their success. When they return next year as junior counselors, they will bring with them a strong foundation as a leader.

One of the best traditions at Camp Adahi is the totem pole. After the totem pole is carefully chosen, the “Camp Dudes” and a few others spend the week carving and painting symbols onto it. On Friday, the totem pole will be erected and the carvings will be revealed. According to Joscelyne Jackson, co-camp director and one of the totem pole carvers, the totem pole is an “integral part of Adahi [because] it records our history and important events.” Each year, the totem pole is topped with our camp mascot. This was the year of the frog, and the topper is a beautiful green metal frog made by Brad Bitter, one of the Camp Dudes.

I walked through (or, in some cases, with) three more activities today — creek ecology, hiking, and games. The creek ecology group traveled through Nelder Creek, identifying fish, water bugs, and spiders all while catching crawdads with nets. The campers splashed in the creek and all seemed surprised about how cold it was! The hiking activity taught campers how to identify plants and gave them wilderness survival tips. They picked and ate wild gooseberries and ended with a quiz on everything they learned.

The games activity played a camp version of dodgeball, a clothespin game that was similar to capture the flag (in which the counselors went undefeated against the campers), and a three legged race using a ball instead of a rope. The campers utilized teamwork by learning how to work with both a partner and a team. As could be seen through the multitude of smiles and constant bouts of laughter, both the campers and the counselors were clearly having a blast.

Even though it seems as though camp just started yesterday, the week is already halfway over. Every day brings a new adventure and, with it, a story. I am so excited to be able to share our experiences at Camp Adahi with all of you!


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