When you live in a big four-person platform tent, as CJL campers and staff do, morning comes shortly after daybreak, as the multitude of birds will tell you. For those not so easily roused by wildlife, a bell rings in the center of camp denoting wake-up time. The four staff members round up the 20-28 girls in their unit and head toward the dining hall.
Before breakfast, as before each meal, a group of campers and staff assembles at the dining hall to prepare the tables for the meal, which, as with all of CJL meals, is served family-style. These girls are the waitresses for that meal, responsible for shuttling food back and forth. After the meal, the remaining campers and counselors clean the dishes their table used.
After breakfast, the girls head back to their units to clean up their tents and their stuff, tidy up the unit, and prepare for class. Each unit has its own cookout facility, sinks, hot showers, and flush toilets, the general maintenance of which is the responsibility of the campers and counselors.
There are three class periods during the morning. Girls choose from a wide variety of activities including archery, canoeing, sailing, swimming, diving, crafts, outdoor living skills, tennis, horseback riding, and, for older girls, a ropes and challenge course called Project Adventure which includes a sheltered climbing wall. Some years, members of the staff have other special areas of interest and expertise and teach classes like gymnastics, hiking, folk dancing of their native countries, and nature crafts.
The afternoon begins after lunch with a rest hour during which campers and staff can rejuvenate. During this time, the campers read and write letters, take short naps, or work on quiet projects in the unit.
After rest hour, the units participate in two segments known as “Recreation Time” and “Unit Time”. During Rec. Time, several units may get together and play at the pool or in the swimming hole at the river, play field games, take a trail or water hike, or engage in other group activities. During Unit Time, the unit may work on campcraft skills or projects including wood chopping, lashing, fire building, and open-fire cooking techniques. Sometimes the units simply go for a nature hike or practise for the song contest.
The long summer days allow for evening activities after dinner, such as camp fires, folk dancing, huge hide-and-seek games, and story-telling. After such a full day, very few campers have trouble falling asleep!
Not every day is a typical day: various special activities pop up from time to time. Once in a while, the campers prepare their own evening meals over fires in their units. Sometimes, everyone picks up her sleeping bag and treks out with her unit into the woods for a camp-out under the stars.
The weekends include special age-appropriate all-day activities or out-of-camp trips, like hikes, canoe excursions, rock climbing expeditions, and visits to local craftspeople.
At the end of each session, a lengthy, friendly competition is held among the various units. This contest, called “All Camp Day”, includes demonstrations of campcraft skills (such as fire building, water boiling, and wood chopping), athletic skills (canoe racing, swimming), and group singing.
The session wraps up with a horse show, an awards program, a big tasty banquet, and a final campfire...
...and a lot of plans about returning next year.