Golden Beaver Magic – A Personal Account

11703379_10153388985066210_3649204087560408919_nFull disclosure: this article was written by a mom. A Beaver Camp mom. A Middle Camper mom. Please continue reading with that knowledge.

Golden Beaver Challenges, whether they involve dancing, singing, skits, visual arts, or athletics, are fun, pure and simple. Middle Campers, by and large, look forward to the dynamic Friday events. They give the campers something to look forward to every week. They involve a healthy dose of competition and engender pride and community. Sometimes parents are invited. Usually, the events are captured in video so campers and their families can relive the fun and the glory for days, weeks, or even months.

This story involves my son, David, who is in Middle Camp this summer and has been attending Beaver Camp since he was an a pudgy faced, three-year-old Kitten. David adores the camp and wakes up every morning eager to arrive on campus so he can get started playing, swimming, eating, and goofing around with his friends and counselors (whom he fondly regards as bigger friends). David is generally outgoing, he is silly, and he has the kind of boundless energy that makes me infinitely grateful that Beaver Camp is the staple to our summer. But, like many kids, David approaches new experiences with an understandable amount of apprehension. He craves familiarity and routine and welcomes surprises as long as they are safe.

That’s why back in early June I was dismayed but not totally surprised when he told me that he was eager to return to Beaver this summer but requested that I talk to counselors – or the Director, if necessary – about letting him sit out of Golden Beaver Challenges. He even wondered aloud whether it would be okay if we just found something else to do on Fridays. He’d had a basic understanding of the weekly tradition since attending one last August with his fellow Koalas and because I had talked them up a bit as a really cool facet of Middle Camp. But David, who worries about how he is perceived by others, knew that the Challenges involved, as he put it “doing things in front of an audience.” I couldn’t argue with that.

Navigator counselors – Kerry, Brendan, and Chris – who, in addition to being super-cool, are incredibly patient and understanding, assured David (and me) that he wouldn’t have to do anything that made him feel uncomfortable. Secretly, though, I harbored hopes that he would grow to enjoy them.

GBC One involved stories written and illustrated by campers but read publicly by counselors. Phew, crisis averted. David sat comfortably entertained and interested in the audience. The following two weeks did not involve any major public appearances or potential embarrassment – AND they took home the Bronze Beaver one Friday!

Then one week, David told me that there was to be a singing competition, in which he and his fellow Navs would sing to Bruno Mars’s Uptown Funk. Whatever Kerry, Brendan, and Chris did to prepare the kids offered David the exact recipe of encouragement, support, inspiration, and entertainment. He was pumped all week leading up to the event, but frankly (and I say this lovingly as his mom and number one fan), stiff and uncomfortable on the front circle stage. I could detect his nerves as I watched, sappy tears welling as he gave all that he could lyrically and choreographically. Alas, the Navigators did not earn caretaking rights for any of the Beavers that week.

I knew, however, that the experience had been a huge step for David – and he was visibly sad and more tired even than usual on the ride home. He was processing the loss, reconciling his efforts with the disappointment, and though I felt sad for him, I appreciated the experience for offering him this opportunity. The following week featured the Olympics – right up his alley since he got to run around for a few hours. AND the Navigators took Silver! Sweet, sweet victory.

Last week, I was optimistic that he would be fine. I had been privy to a few teasers of the routine, as he was goofily self-assured in the comfort and privacy of our living room. And so I was stunned – and proud and, quite frankly, moved – when I saw my silly, nutty, energetic – but also anxious and self-conscious six-year-old enthusiastically Shaking It Off to Taylor Swift among dear friends, having seemingly shaken off his GBC jitters as well!

I tell you, there’s power in Golden Beaver Challenges. Go Navigators!

To see your favorite Middle Camper’s performance in last week’s Golden Beaver Challenge, or any of this summer’s videos to to our YouTube page.