From the moment that the buses pulled away and headed towards Warrensburg, NY, many parents began their countdown to Visiting Day. With the long-awaited day finally upon us, parents of new campers may be wondering what to expect on Visiting Day, and what happens after they say goodbye to their child when it ends. Returning parents may also be wondering how the Camp Echo Lake staff helps kids with the transition back into “camper mode.”
Visiting Day begins at 9:00am and ends at 3:00pm. Parents will be greeted by Tony, Emily, Amy and Laurie at the start of the day before they head off to see their children, who will be waiting on the porch of their bunks. In the case where there are siblings in Main Village and Senior Village, the older sibling will come to the younger sibling’s bunk and wait for their parents together.
Meetings take place for Junior groups at 9:30am, and for Inter & Senior Village groups at 9:45am. During this time, the Group Leaders will talk about the group and parents will get the chance to meet the counselors. Each group will perform their song from Group Sing so that the parents can get a flavor of just one great camp event.
When the meetings end, the rest of the day is spent doing whatever the parents and children decide upon. All of the camp facilities are available to be used by the campers and their visitors.
Lunch will be served in The Grove for everyone. Following lunch, there will be a lineup at 1pm at the Main Village flagpole for any parents who want to get a feel for what evening line-up is all about. Who knows, you could walk away with a fuzzy!
As you would expect, the reunion that takes place between parents and children is highly emotional after three weeks of being apart. After spending the day together, the goodbyes can be equally as emotional, but the campers jump back into camp immediately with the help of the Echo Lake staff and the programs that begin right after the parents leave.
By 2:30pm, families should move back towards the camper’s bunk. Goodbyes are much easier for the campers at their cabins, where they are surrounded by their friends and their counselors in their summer home.
At 3:00pm, parents say goodbye to their child and depart. We have found through the years that the best way to say goodbye is to give your child a big hug and reinforce the message that you gave to them as they boarded the bus in the beginning of the summer. By telling them that you love them, you’ll miss them and wishing them the best four weeks of camp, you are giving them the confidence to go back to being a thriving camper.
Even though it can be challenging, parents need to find the strength to turn and walk away after a one big, long goodbye even if their child is crying and getting very emotional. If a camper is having a particularly difficult time, it is best to seek out the assistance of a counselor or head staff member, rather than prolonging the goodbye because it makes the transition more difficult for the child.
Leaving a crying child is hard on parents, but rest assured, the tears stop very shortly after Visiting Day ends (usually 10-15 minutes at the most).
Shortly after the parents leave, there are candy parties on Boys Camp, Girls Camp and Senior Village. All of the campers bring towels or blankets onto the field in front of their bunks, along with the candy, cookies and food that their parents left behind. Eating candy with friends while having water fights and playing music instantly brings smiles to the faces that were sad minutes earlier.
After the candy party ends, all of the campers return to their bunks to get ready for general swim, which is followed by the usual evening lineup and then dinner (for those who are still hungry).
One of the things that young campers look forward to most when moving up to Senior Village is the chance to host Halloween in July for all of the campers in Main Village.
The Lower Village campers create Halloween games, a runway with photos of kids in their costumes, a “spooky” museum and other silly Halloween things for the younger kids to enjoy. Talking about this event is a great way for parents to distract any child that starts to get sad during the day as they think about saying goodbye. It is a really fun event, and of course, the campers are always happy to get more candy!
After Halloween in July ends, the campers go back to their bunks and put on pajamas to get ready for the Tribal torch lighting ceremony.
As torch bearers, the LITs light the torch and then lead the kids in a Tribal cheer – “The torch is lit, the flames are high, let the glory of the Gold/Green make its way to the sky!”
Upon completion of the torch lighting ceremony, the Tribal Judges reveal this year’s Tribal themes to the rest of the camp. It is a very exciting moment that the kids all look forward to each summer!
When bedtime rolls around the kids all fall asleep very easily after a fun-filled, emotional day.
On Sunday morning, the campers all get up at their usual time and enjoy a full day of regular activities, which gets them back to their normal routine. This is very easy for every camper, even the ones who were homesick at the beginning of the summer because they have already adjusted to camp.