Week one, second term is going well here at Camp Desoto! We’ve had many fun activities, including junior kickball, intermediate basketball and a talent show. Last night, our intermediates and seniors competed in a lip sync battle, while our junior campers explored the woods and camped out under the stars.
At Camp Desoto, there’s not much we find more exciting than little girls spending the night in the woods for the first time ever. 2nd and 3rd graders hike out to Thunder Glen, eat dinner and s’mores, and read some bedtime stories before they hike back to their cabins right before bedtime. And 4th and 5th graders get to enjoy the whole experience of camping out! 4th graders hike to the overnight shelters by the River, and 5th graders camp out in a pasture at Phil’s Farm, just down the mountain in Valley Head, AL.
But why do we ask ten-year-olds to spend the night in the woods and under the stars, with their friends and counselors? Why is this our favorite night at Camp Desoto, when some campers are nervous about bugs and sleeping in a sleeping bag?
Because a night in the woods is magical.
When girls retreat from the world they know to spend time in a place that might be a little unfamiliar, they start to notice things they may never have seen before. Last night, little girls stopped to look up at the stars through the trees, listened to the orchestra of singing insects, and experienced the fun of making your own dinner over a fire. They enjoyed camp in a whole new way! For a ten-year-old, that is pretty magical. And of course, that is why we love camp. The magic of a simple campout can take us out of this world and transport us to a place of simplicity, love and fun.
A night in the woods also cultivates courage and independence! You mean there won’t be a screen door between me and the night? Yes, that’s right. You mean we’ll have to use an out house? Yep. You mean I won’t have a mattress?? You got it. These are the questions they ask all afternoon. And when they wake up the next morning, roll their sleeping bags up, and hike back to Camp (or hop on a big yellow school bus) with messy hair and sleepy eyes, you can see it on their faces: we did it! She doesn’t just believe in herself, she knows what she is capable of.
In the pictures below, we hope you see the same wonder in campers’ eyes that we saw last night. And we hope that when girls are sleeping in their beds at home, in a month or two, they will remember a magical night that they spent under sprawling oak branches and towering pines. We hope they’ll remember s’mores around the campfire and turning flashlights out to see the stars. And most of all we hope they’ll remember waking up with the sunrise and the morning dew, standing a little taller and a little braver, feeling confident in God’s care of them and in their own courage.