-Written by Candace Staker, Rainbows’ Family Support Services Coordinator
A’hoy everyone! We have officially closed up Camp at Pirates’ Cove for the summer and have returned to Kids’ Cove. But, boy do we have stories to share! The ship is docked and all the little pirates will soon be returning to school with memories of, what I hope, was a fun-filled and adventurous summer. The last time I was part of a summer camp I was 13, several summers ago! This summer I was fortunate to be part of a summer camp again, this time at Rainbows’ Camp Woodchuck, and it is an experience I won’t soon forget! My co-workers tried to tell me about Camp Woodchuck and the wonderful time it is, but nothing truly compares to actually experiencing it for yourself. As you can imagine, serving 99 children and youth daily at Camp has the potential to be chaotic, so I was prepared for hectic. What I wasn’t prepared for was the copious amount of fun, laughter and joy I would have along with the kids! Camp’s 2017 theme was “Treasure Island, Adventure Awaits You.” You can imagine the treasure hunts, pirate games and exploring that took place at Camp this year with a theme like that. We even had a pin the eye patch on the pirate game. .
To keep our ship sailing at Pirates’ Cove, we had some incredible first mates: the Camp Staff! For Camp to run as well as it does, to sail out to all of the field trips and to complete numerous activities, it requires around 100 Staff members, a Camp Director, and an Assistant Camp Director. Without each of these wonderful individuals committing their summer to serving Rainbows children and families, Camp Woodchuck would not be what it is. I am grateful to the entire Staff and their hard work ensuring Campers have the best summer possible.
My favorite part of Camp was experiencing everything for the first time, and there were a lot of firsts for me; the Fashion Show, Talent Show and Art Show just to name a few! I had a first experience with the Journey of Hope bikers, the annual shaving cream war and one of my favorites, the Voices of the Rainbow Camp Woodchuck choir. I loved the opportunity to help spread joy, song and dance to local community businesses with the choir, and watch the kids beam with smiles as they sang the well-rehearsed songs and, at times, break into impromptu dance. The Fashion Show was fun because the kids got to dress up and show off their threads. How exciting to see their visions come to life on the runway! The Talent Show cannot be topped; as these pirates were bursting with talent from performing solos to joke telling, dancing and group performances! The Art Show was a space for their creativity to shine, and these kids did not disappoint. Who knew pirates were so artistic?
From special events to field trips including the Sedgwick County Zoo, Botanica Gardens, bowling, skating at Carousel, the nature center, Club Rodeo and many more, we were busy this summer! In total the pirates sailed out on 51 field trips and 8 choir trips; pirates don’t rest when there’s fun to be had! We also named the woodchuck mascot this summer and the results are in… The woodchuck shall be named Chip. We imagine Chip will be around in the summers to come.
I have been asked many times “What was your favorite part of camp?” and it’s hard to pick just one activity, field trip or special event. Above all, I can tell you my favorite part of experiencing Camp Woodchuck for the first time was the kids, without question! Working with and getting to see the kids every day, their smiles, hearing their laughs and getting hugs from friends each day was the best part for me. It’s bitter sweet that Camp has wrapped for the summer, but I can promise you preparation is already underway for Camp Woodchuck 2018. It’s no wonder people talk about Camp Woodchuck with a smile, I haven’t had a summer so fun since I was 13!