Editorial: Don’t Shorten Camp

Stone McLaren ’18 enjoys a kayaking excursion at camp this year. Photo by David Cutler ’02.

The Gator finds unfortunate the administration’s decision to shorten next year’s trip to Camp Windgate Kirkland in Yarmouth, Mass.

In his April 10 news article, Fall Camp Retreat Shortened, Alex Dolan ‘17 reported that with the change, students will now have two full days—not just one—of classes and post-season practice, before departing to Windgate Kirkland.

Upper School Head Joshua Neudel says that the change will help prevent tiredness before the first full week of classes. The Gator appreciates the concern, but we wish to assure the administration that tiredness is a small price to pay for what two nights at camp delivers.

Simply put, one night away is insufficient to cement cohesion. Indeed, much of what makes Brimmer special is not only the bonds formed between peers, but also between students and teachers. When students bike, canoe, climb and sing with their instructors, they see adults differently—as partners in creating a caring, supportive learning environment. It matters when students sit around the campfire, strumming on guitars with history and drama teachers, while others enjoy dancing and cooking s’mores under a starlit sky.

Even if all of this is crammed into a shortened excursion, it takes time for camaraderie to set in. By the time this begins to occur, everyone will be riding a bus back to campus.

Last year, the School introduced the idea of “camp families,” where students and teachers from different grades would eat and participate in different activities together. This was a terrific idea, helping to create lasting relationships across ages. But for whatever challenges creating a real sense of fraternity in just two days posed, with just one day, this otherwise terrific exercise will undoubtedly feel forced and artificial.

The Gator feels that with pent-up excitement, the added class day will be a wash. It will be extremely difficult to get students to focus on anything but the upcoming trip, regardless of how much teachers try.