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Illustration by Arnel Reynon
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Illustration by Arnel Reynon
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Alyssa Brame (above) has done both equestrian and outdoor programs at Camp Friendship. Photo courtesy Heather Barbour
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Climbing, caving and hiking are on the agenda at Camp Alkulana in Millboro Springs. Photo courtesy Camp Alkulana
Mom and Dad might think they know it all, but given that their summer-camp days are long behind them, it's the next generation that has the real skinny on that rite of the season. For one thing, there are more choices than ever. Camps these days go well beyond canoeing and crafts. If kids want to bone up on their writing skills, explore medical careers or learn CPR, it's there for them. From epic mountain-biking and rock-climbing adventures to dissecting pig hearts and shoveling horse manure, these kids candidly divulge what they loved and loathed about life at summer camp.
Name: Cole Dawson
Camp: Camp Virginia, Goshen
Type of camp: Overnight. Christian. Boys. Three weeks.
How did you feel when you learned you were going to camp? I asked to go for a while, and when I got the news, I was excited. I was going into sixth grade, and I thought it would be a fun experience.
What kinds of activities did you do? Lots of horseback riding, riflery, archery, baseball, basketball, tennis.
Were any friends from home at your camp? I knew three or four guys that went. It's three weeks living with a lot of guys, so you meet new people.
When you first got there, what did you think? It was a little scary living with new people, but then you get to know them, and they all were really nice kids. What was cool about Camp Virginia? It was secluded, and there was a lot of variety to what you were doing. There was never a dull moment. Did you have a favorite activity? I went on a hike, an overnight hike, and that was pretty fun. I had never been hiking before. It was pretty fun carrying everything on your back — your food and clothes and tent and stuff. So, what wasn't cool about camp? You had to have your room cleaned and inspected every morning, but that wasn't too bad. Beds had to be made neatly. Your trunk had to be organized. There couldn't be stuff all over the cabin. Name: Nick Dawson Age: 10 Camp: Swift Creek School of Equitation, Manakin-Sabot Type: Day. Horseback riding. Boys and girls. One week. Were you excited to go to horse camp? I was really excited because I have never really interacted with a horse for that long. What did you do during camp? You basically take care of the horses and learn how to ride them. They would let us ride in circles to teach us how to trot. I was in the beginner class. What other kinds of activities did you do? After lunch, we'd have craft time or do something fun. One day we had a water day where you bring your bathing suit and they had slip-and-slide. Any impressions from your first day? I was amazed at how many horses they had. It was a big barn. They had cats and dogs there, too. What else was cool about horse camp? Basically, you got your own horse for the week, and you had to groom it, pet it, wash it and ride it. And feed it. What was your horse like? His name was Folker. He was tall and brown. We had to put a muzzle on him because he had bit people. What wasn't cool about it? It was very hot there. Did you have any chores? Well, one morning I got there, and everyone was cleaning out the stalls. So they made us all clean out the stalls. And yeah … It wasn't fun. Not at all fun. Name: Alyssa Brame Age: 11 Camp: Camp Friendship, Palmyra Type of camp: Overnight. Adventure camp and horseback-riding camp. Boys and girls. One week. Which camp did you attend — horseback riding or adventure? I've done both. I've been to one during the summer and the other during spring break. How did you feel when you found out you were going to camp? I was really excited because I went with my best friend. I had never been to camp before, but it was really fun. The camp I went to with my best friend was the adventure camp when I was 7. For horse camp last year, I went by myself, but I made lots of new friends that were really nice. Were you scared to go to horse camp alone? I was shy at first, but until I met everybody I got right along. What did you learn at camp? There is an average rider group and more advanced rider group. I was in the more advanced group. They teach you how to untack the horse and take its saddle and bridle off. You also learn the skeletal system of the horse. It's for improving your skills to be a better rider. How were the days planned? You ride twice a day, and when that is over, you change back into normal clothes, and they teach you how to do other stuff, like archery. Tell me about the adventure camp you did when you were 7. We did a lot of stuff for that — team activities. They also have a water slide and lake. We went on hikes. When you first went to camp, what did you think? At first I was scared because I had never been away from my mom, but I got over it. Name: Halie Fox Age: 12 Camp: St. Catherine's Brilliant Minds Camp, Richmond Type of camp: Day camp. Academic. Boys and girls. One to two weeks. Why did you go to the Brilliant Minds Camp? For reading comprehension and grammar. I also took a babysitting class. What was your reaction to finding out you were going to camp? I didn't want to go. I didn't think I needed to, and I thought it would be boring. Why didn't you want to go? Well, I thought it would be a waste my time, and I didn't think I needed to learn anything new. I didn't want to be in a classroom for four hours a day for two weeks. Now, after going to the camp, what do you think of it? I didn't think it was boring after I did it. I thought it was really helpful. I took a lot of notes about what I can do in English to become better. What did you learn about in English class? I learned about sentences and fragments and conjunctions. We wrote stories. We learned about verbs, adverbs and adjectives. And did that help you become better at English? I'm a lot better in English than I was last year. I get A's now. Tell me a little bit about the babysitting class. Babysitting class was one week, and we learned about CPR and first aid. We watched movies on babysitting, and then we'd practice on dummies. Did you become a certified babysitter through the class? Yes, I am certified. Was babysitting more fun than English? It was. It was something I actually wanted to do. What wasn't cool about the camp? I liked the babysitting class, but with the English class, I didn't like how long it was. Name: Miranda Arias Age: 14 Camp : Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing , New Castle Type of camp: Overnight. Outdoor adventure. Boys and girls. 2 weeks. Was this a traditional camp experience? It's not so much like an actual camp; it's more like a trip or program. So you get to base camp, and then we would go off and camp or go on a big hike in the forest. Were you excited to go to camp? Our parents were like, "You are going to Wilderness Adventure camp!" The summer before, they tried to send us there, and my sister and I didn't want to go, and we ended up going [last] year, after all. Why didn't you want to go? Our parents told us about this camp and I was like, "This is hiking, and I don't like this kind of stuff." After you got there, did you start to like it? I thought I was going to end up liking it, but I didn't. It wasn't fun for me because I didn't get to shower for two weeks and had to sleep in a tent. What did you do for showering then? Halfway through it, they gave us some soap, and we jumped in the lake. We went kayaking, so we'd rinse off then, too. What other activities did you do? We did kayaking and rock climbing and mountain biking. We did lots of road biking. There was one day that it was all uphill — like 20 miles. It was awful. Did you like living outside for two weeks? Well, it rained a lot, and also our clothes would get wet. We'd hang our clothes out at night, and they wouldn't dry. Half the time, our clothes wouldn't dry completely, and our shoes were always kind of wet. What about the bugs? I wasn't as [prepared] with bug spray in the beginning. Toward the end, I was getting so itchy. My mom took a picture of my sister's and my legs, and they had mosquito bites and cuts all over them. And they were all dirty. Did you like anything about the camp? Yeah, the rock climbing and kayaking was pretty fun. There was one biking trip that was all downhill, and that was really fun. How was the food? We had bags that have dehydrated food in them. You'd boil water and pour it in there and let it sit for a little while, and it turns into food, but it's mushy food, and it isn't very good. What was your first meal after you left camp? We got in the car and we drove immediately to Chipotle. Name: Ben Reinford Age: 10 Camp: 4H Camp, Jamestown Type of camp: Overnight. Traditional. Boys and girls. Monday to Friday. What kinds of things did you do at camp? Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, going to the mud pit and finding frogs. Outdoors and art activities. What was your favorite activity? The mud pit. I got to catch frogs and crabs. What was cool about 4H camp? You could go the store, and you could buy these different things if your parents gave you money. They had some arts and crafts supplies that I'd buy. Was there anything you didn't like about camp? One of the rules is you need two people or more with you. If you have to go to the bathroom, it's hard to find two people to go with you. What kinds of chores did you have? You have to make your bed; you can get a broom and sweep the floors. You could win going to dinner or breakfast early if you made your cabin the cleanest. How did you feel about doing those chores? I was OK with it because they made it kind of fun. There was a reward system with it. What was your schedule like during the day? You do three activities a day. You wake up, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed and go to breakfast. You do one activity, and then you have free time. Then you go to lunch, and then you do two activities. Then you go back to the cabin, get dressed if you got wet or muddy, and then you go to dinner. After dinner, you go to the campfire. We sang a lot of different songs. Did you like camp food? Their food was really good. Like what exactly? Their breakfast with the eggs and bacon is really good. Name: Nadine Delano Age: 15 Camp: Camp Alkulana, Millboro Springs Type of camp: Overnight. Christian. Boys and girls sessions. Week and 10-day sessions. Was last summer your first time going to camp? It was my fifth year going. Did you go with any friends? The past summer it was only me, but I have gone with friends before. Are there friends you see every summer? Yeah, there are a lot of girls that come back. What did you think five years ago when your parents said you were going to camp? One of my friends was coming with me, so I was excited. I didn't know what to expect because it was my first overnight camp experience. I was kind of nervous, but it was a lot of fun. What kinds of activities did you do? They have a climbing wall. You can go caving, where you can go on a walk through the caves. You also get to go hiking. What other activities did you do? Us older girls do High Adventure, where you do extreme stuff. Like, you can go canoeing and caving and rock climbing. And you can go mountain-bike riding and exploring water places. What kinds of chores did you have? Every morning, you'd have to get up and clean your cabin and sweep. I didn't mind it, though. I try to keep a good attitude about everything. Did you learn anything new at camp? I had never gone caving before, so that was something that was new. How was the food? It was really good food. The cooks there are great. I am a vegetarian, so I had to get special food, so it was mostly veggie burgers. Name: Eryn Carlisle Age: 13 Camp: Bon Secours Nursing Explorer's Camp at St. Mary's Hospital Type of camp: Day camp. Academic with medical focus. Boys and girls. One week. Why did you want to go to nursing camp? I'm interested in a medical career, so I applied. You have to fill out a few questions about yourself and write a 500-word paragraph about why you want to go to the camp and what you want to do when you grow up. I want to be a sports physician and work with a sports team or be an orthopedic surgeon. What did you do at camp? We'd dissect pig hearts and other pig organs — a lung and kidney. We dissected a brain — that wasn't from a pig. And then we'd eat lunch. Then we'd go into a department, like orthopedics, and they'd show us this new machine that they'd use for surgery and we'd experiment with that. We'd go around the hospital and see what nurses and doctors do on a daily basis. Did the camp help you decide what you wanted to do within the medical field? I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon since around sixth grade, but then they told me about sports physicians. And I was like, "Wow, that sounds interesting," especially since I love sports. What was a high point? My favorite thing was that at the end we had a fair where we showed off what we learned. You got a topic where you caught a disease or infection, and you research it, and on the last day, you have to make a poster about it. What was the low point of camp? I didn't like the food. It was hospital food. We didn't have many options — weird chicken sandwiches and barbecue. I'd rather have Chick-fil-A. Name: Peyton Guise Age: 11 Camp: YMCA Camp Silver Beach, Jamestown Type of Camp: Overnight. Adventure/outdoors camp. Girls and boys. One or two weeks. What kind of activities can you do? Water activities, banana boating, which is raft-shaped like a banana, and it's pulled by a motorboat. There's also kayaking, and at the pool you can just play around. What do you get to do at the beach? Sometimes there are relay races on the beach where there are sand-castle contests. And then there is something called ski school. You go out onto the beach with a group, and you get to do skiing or knee boarding. What kind of land activities does the camp offer? There's arts and crafts, a climbing tower and also the field, where you can play tetherball and kickball. And then you can also go to dance or acting class. What is your typical day like? You'd wake up, get dressed and get breakfast. And then you would do a land activity and go get lunch, come back and get letters or packages from your family. And then you go to water activities. At water activities, you'd go to the pool and the beach. Then you go back to cabins and get dressed and go to dinner and come back and shower. Did you have any chores? There were chores, but they weren't that bad. You would make your bed, and you would clean up some of your stuff off the floor. What did you learn at camp? I learned about the environment. I'd go out and see different animals and plants along the beach. Name: Whit Licata Age: 12 Camp: St. Sebastian's Sports Camp, Orkney Springs Type of camp: Overnight. Athletic, Christian. Boys and girls. 10 days. Was this your first summer at this camp? I had been going for three years. It's always good to get away and be with my friends. When you found out you were going to camp three years ago, how'd you feel? I was excited, honestly, because a lot of my friends had gone to it at my church. I was hearing a lot about it. Were you nervous your first few days at camp? I dove right in. I never really got homesick when I was there. What kind of sports did you play? They have soccer, football, tennis, dodgeball. Everything. We'd play pretty much all the sports you can think of aside from cricket. We did some running and swimming. Are there athletes of all abilities at camp? There are some really good athletes, and there are some who aren't so much athletes, but it's still fun for everyone in the end. Did the camp introduce you to a new sport? There's a game [called] King Ball they made up at camp. What was cool about camp? I think the coolest thing about it is the people. They are awesome to talk to and really nice. I've known a lot of them, and they are all really funny. You feel like you are in a different community when you are there. What did you learn at camp, aside from playing sports? It teaches you maturity in a fun way. You go to sports camp, and their methods of doing stuff are different. You are trusted with chores and activities and responsibilities. Editor's Note: Miranda Arias is the daughter of Richmond magazine Food Editor Brandon Fox.