Half Day Camp- 6/16-6/20
I went to a lot of camps when I was younger because both of my parents work during the summers. Every week was booked with one type of camp or another. I went to pottery camp, soccer camp, lacrosse camp, sailing camp, sleep-away camp, Girl Scout camp, “Learn to Row” camp, and what felt like a million volleyball camps. I’m pretty much a camp expert. I dealt with homesickness, bug bites, bad counselors, junk food, and all-nighters. I dealt with camp songs, camp games, and camp rules. However, I never experienced a camp quite like Little Bellas.
As I drove to camp the first day, some of the familiar feelings of camp when I was younger crept back into my mind. I was nervous the girls wouldn’t like me, or they would think I was a bad mountain biker. I was excited to meet so many new people, and hopefully make new friends. I was uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing, or that I was capable of leading girls. I was already tired because I woke up at 5:45 AM to get there on time. As soon as I got to Catamount the whirlwind began. I thought I was early, but there were already parents there with their girls. Clearly I wasn’t the only one with restless anticipation of the week to come.
Check in went smoothly. I was in charge of giving out G-form pads. G-form pads have a stretchy, breathable main body, with pads (for both elbows and knees!) that feel surprisingly soft and cushiony. The pad material is flexible but in the event of an impact, hardens instantly so that you get the protection of a hard shell. I couldn’t tell you the science behind it, but they work and are super cool. Brittany, my fellow mentor, was in charge of decorating nameplates for the bikes, and Sabra was taking care of all the paper work. It was fun observing the first day of camp from a mentor’s perspective. Girls were holding onto their parent’s legs reluctant to have them go. There were a few tears, a few forgotten lunch boxes, and last minute sunscreen rub-ins, but eventually all of the parents left and camp began.
There were 24 girls, 3 mentors, and 3 junior mentors. After our first ride as a group, the rest of camp is a blur to me. We biked… a lot. Every day we usually did one ride together, and then would split off into smaller groups for the rest of the rides. We did yoga every day, led by Sabra. One of my (and the girls) favorite parts of yoga was the “Tree-off”. Everyone did tree pose in a circle, but when you lost your balance you became a “distracticon”. A distracticon’s job was to try and get the others still in tree pose to lose their balance. I really wish I got video footage because the distracticons were hilarious, and some of the girls had incredible balance. Sabra also led rhyming yoga, which the girls loved.
Another day was insanely hot, so we incorporated the hose into some games. Brittney and Sabra were usually the hose masters, and there were some great song-dance-hose routines that, again, I wish I had recorded. The next day was rainy and cold, but Angela came and brightened everyone’s spirits with the best trifle I’ve ever had. There may, or may not, have been a few girls licking their plates and begging for seconds… and thirds. “Musical bikes” (think musical chairs) was one of my favorite games. Sabra pulled her car into the middle of a circle of flags, and when you got out, you went into the middle of the circle and did some serious boogeying to the blasting music. Speaking of boogeying, we did a sing-off between the different groups we had split into for our rides. Lea and I led our group, the “Kool, Killer, Chocolate Cupcakes” in a song and dance routine of “Roar” by Katy Perry. Look for us on America’s Got Talent soon.
I’m a collegiate athlete and would consider myself in pretty good shape. I was seriously exhausted by the end of the half-day camp session. I would get back to Middlebury around 1:30 and have to make the choice of what I wanted to do more, eat or sleep, and I wanted both pretty badly.
My friends got pretty sick of hearing my endless camp stories, but I just had so much I wanted to tell them. I told them how proud I was of Ali for doing the Gully-Whomper. I told them how fearless Sophie was. I told them how Ila made the best lion faces ever. I told them how Mary rocked a fedora underneath her helmet one day. Most of all, I told them about how I wished I could have gone to Little Bellas when I was younger. It’s not that there are no rules, there are definitely rules and planned activities, but the girls run the camp! If they want to put mud on their faces, they can put mud on their faces. If they want to make seal noises in Cobra position, they can make seal noises. The ideas that they come up with are full of creativity, and sometimes just completely random, but the mentors listen with open ears willing to give almost anything a go.
My biggest take away from the camp, as far as life lessons go, is that positive energy is contagious. Sabra and Brittney exemplified this throughout the week. Both of them came to camp every day, smiling, hyped up (on coffee), and ready to make good things happen. They never let on if they were tired, annoyed, or frustrated (all emotions that I definitely felt). I remember one day in particular when it was rainy and grey. The weather was definitely not ideal, and the junior mentors and I were complaining a little bit before the girls came. Sabra told us that we better put a smile on, because the girls feel our energy. If we acted miserable, they would act miserable. The day ended up being one of the best of the week despite the bad weather. Sabra, Brittney, and the junior mentors did an amazing job at helping girls accomplish their fears, make new friends, and be truly uninhibited.
All the best,