Today was another beautifully sunny day at camp Merri-Mac with singing coming from all directions. It was the first day of activities for our new campers and they were all very excited to get into a regular routine and meet the girls in their classes. Before they were able to have maximum fun, however, they had to learn to be safe! All activities have a safety talk at the beginning of the first class of the session. Safety talks are used to educate the girls on how to properly use the necessary equipment involved in their classes. Safety talks are also used as an icebreaker between counselors, counselors-in-training, and campers. A favorite icebreaker question among counselors is to ask the camper: if you could be an animal, which one would you be? Speaking of animals, last night we had initiation, and we initiated the puppies too!

Seminoles: Puppy Page, Puppy Motley, Puppy Gibbs, Kathryn R, Louisa D, Greer H, Olivia R, Mary Clayton S, Jillian G, Elisa B, and Ana Christina L.

Iroquois: Puppy Dillion, Lucy V, Anabel D, Emily S, Avery G, Elle Waldron, Layla M, Lucie R, Maya N, Natalia R, and Sydney H.

Choctaw: Puppy Robb, Pearce W, Isabella R, and Gabriella K.

My day of observation and picture taking began at the archery range where, after the safety talk, many girls began working toward their bronze bar. The girls were divided by height and eye dominance to find a bow that best suits them. At the range, we have a few commands. When the instructor says the “fire” command, they like to get creative. A favorite among many of our campers is “let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore!” The best part about that command is that the designated command caller sings it just like Elsa in Frozen. The younger campers like to join in as well.
My second stop in the day was on Little Dipper porch where little fingers were strumming guitar strings to make a sweet melody everywhere you turned your ear. Girls in the guitar class are also working towards bars. The favorite song among campers this summer seems to be “Riptide”, or anything by Taylor Swift, of course.
My next stop coming down senior hill was the fitness class. The girls in here work hard every day doing a varirety of workouts. Many of the girls who take fitness also attempt to earn the elective mark of running the fitness trail. In fitness they learn how to properly exercise their muscles. They also learn how important it is to hydrate often to keep our bodies going throughout the day, not just in fitness class.
After checking in on fitness I made my way down the hill to pottery where the girls learned how to make pinch pots. This is where you take a ball of clay and pinch the center down to make a bowl-like shape. It is a fun and simple first craft for our first day campers. The motto in pottery is if you can dream it, you can build it. Pottery teaches the girls patience, gentleness, dedication, and focus. The beautiful thing about pottery is that a girl gets to learn the basics, and then she is able to create something that is truly her own; something beautiful that she formed from a ball of clay with her own two hands.
After that I made my way over to knitting and cooking. The knitters had so many different styles of creating scarves, headbands, and as one girl told me, “I don’t know exactly what I’m making yet; I’m just knitting.” Just beyond that, however, in cooking, they knew exactly what they were making: fish tacos and fresh salsa. As I walked in, the room was filled with the sound of chewing and faces that expressed the accomplishment they felt at having made a fresh meal to enjoy.
After a filling lunch of turkey wraps and curly fries, we headed to our cabins for rest hour and free time. Following that, campers and staff headed to their classes for the second half of the day. The class I visited first was volleyball where they played a game of freeze tag to warm up in preparation for some volleyball drills. This was a different version of freeze tag than I was used to, however. When a girl was tagged and frozen, she knelt down on one knee and held out her arm with her hand palm down. To get unfrozen, another girl had to come by and sit on her knee and “flush” the hand on the extended arm. They called this version of freeze tag “toilet tag”. An interesting new spin that was very popular among the campers.
My next stop was at the stables where girls were learning about the different parts of a horse and how to be most safe when interacting with them. Two girls during my time there were getting one-on-one coaching instruction in the proper way to lean with the horse and balance on the sturups. The instructor started the horse off in a walk and worked up to a trot so that the girls could get a basic feel for riding.
After I spent some time with the horses I made my way to Lake Doris where canoeing, kayaking, and swimming classes were taking place. I spent most of my time watching the kayakers work on their rolls; it is fascinating to watch! Another class that is fun to watch is the climbing class. They spent their day at the traverse wall on the side of the Mike. The Mike is our gymnasium building. The traverse wall is more of a beginner’s wall and is perfect for the first day of classes to get the feel of climbing close to the ground.
Today was a great day. The girls now have a scheduled routine. They have been taught how to be safe and have a feel for the basics of their activities. We ended the day with a spaghetti dinner followed by sock war. The girls are now soon to be doing cabin activities, devotion, and then off to bed. Day number one is almost over, and we are all so honored that you sent your girls to Merri-Mac!

Catie Shearer