With our first new camper get together, the New Camper Bowling Event, coming up, I have been thinking about all the pretty awesome FIRSTS our new campers will experience this summer – and some even before the summer!

Your camp Big Brother or Big Sister will be in touch with you sometime in March or April.  This may be your first connection to a returning – and older – Echo Lake camper.  The “Bigs” will contact you in the spring to let you know about some of their experiences at camp – the things and people that bring them coming back each summer.  And you can write back to them and ask them questions about things you are thinking about as you approach camp … like what are their favorite activities? Favorite meal?  Favorite evening activity? The idea here is that “Bigs” will be very helpful to all of our new campers! On the first day of camp, Big Brothers and Big Sisters will come say hello to you in person!

Speaking of the first day of camp, that is a very exciting day filled with firsts.  What you need to keep in mind is that from the time you arrive at the bus stop until you arrive at camp and up until the very end of the first day of camp (and for the 50 days that follow), you will be surrounded by great counselors everywhere you look.  We have counselors at the bus to help you find a seat and to find someone to sit with AND we have counselors greet you as you come off the bus AND our counselors have already picked out your bed and cubbies for you so when you arrive you already have your place!  The first day of camp is also great because you will meet all the kids in your bunk and group … just think, you might just be meeting your lifelong best friend that first day of camp and not even realize it!

Your first fuzzy will be a huge deal.  Young or old, there is not a single person at camp who does not feel great when they get a fuzzy.  Fuzzies are given out for doing one of the only two things you have to do to be successful at Echo Lake – trying hard and being nice.  Someone for sure is going to spot you doing one of those two things and he or she is going to nominate you for a fuzzy. At evening line-up, you will be celebrated in front of the entire camp and everyone will hear the wonderful thing you did to earn that fuzzy.  On the flip side, you will also spot other people doing things that are fuzzy-worthy and you, in turn, will nominate them. It is also pretty great to give a fuzzy and see how happy you make someone else feel by recognizing their good deed!

Trying activities for the first time is one of the many amazing firsts at camp.  Sky Village? Waterskiing? Baseball? Ceramics?  Gymnastics? Cooking? Hiking Mt. Hackensack? Now I am sure you will have tried many of our camp activities before arriving at Echo Lake, but I don’t know of any new Echo Lake camper who has tried everything we do at camp.  Catching your first fish in Echo Lake – AMAZING! Climbing Mt. Hackensack and seeing the view of camp – and lots of the Adirondacks from the top on a clear day– AWESOME! Flying from tree to tree in Sky Village or Jason’s Jungle – GINORMOUS!  Standing on a stage with your group at Group Sing and singing with all the energy you have – SPECTACULAR! Sitting on the beach and watching our incredible fireworks show – MONUMENTAL! Roasting your first S’more at your first campfire – STUPENDOUS!  I may start to run out of superlatives, but you get the idea. There are many firsts in every day at camp and you will be excited by all of them.

There also may be a first tough day when something does not go as you had hoped.  Maybe you and a friend had a disagreement, or you felt like you failed at something.  As we all know, not every day in our lives is perfect and camp is no different. What you will find at camp – all the time – is many people, whether your counselors or fellow campers, who are there to pick you up when you are sad, or support you when you make a mistake, or encourage you to try again when you feel you can’t do something.  Yes it feels really good to pass your swim test the first time out … but imagine how great it feels when you have tried several times to pass, taken extra instruction to improve your skills and then, due to your effort, attitude and the people around you who helped you, you pass it after three or four or five times. YOU WILL FEEL SO PROUD OF YOURSELF!  Figuring out, with the help of others, how to turn tough moments around is one of the most important experiences you will have at camp.

Your first last day of camp will come so quickly.  You will wonder where those 51 days went and as you board the bus home you will be thinking about the firsts you experienced during the summer.  You will laugh and cry on the last day of camp, you will get and give enormous hugs to your new best friends and your wonderful counselors, and you will be so proud of all you did and accomplished in your first summer at Echo Lake!