As a mom of 3 boys I will tell you, there is (whether we admit it or not) a big sigh of collective relief from all moms of school-aged children when the beginning of the school year rolls around. Back to a routine, a bit more structure, back to fall sports and frankly dropping the little angels off for a good 6 hours of the day with their amazing teachers is the best thing for everyone. Having said that, summer is this incredible gift - a time when we get to enjoy the outdoors, take more time to spend together, soak up the weather, and change things up; there are always some stellar moments that really stand out about what can, at the time seem like an endless summer vacation. For my kids this was the time spent with the most energetic, and creative group of adults around, the team at Change is Simple. I had decided early on that this year, doing multiple camps was out of the question, even though here on the north shore we could not have more options - they could spend the summer bungee jumping, creating video games or engineering, making art, playing soccer, tennis, learning archery, canoeing, sailing or alternating doing any number of those things at any one of a million different camps - we are spoilt for choice. They have tried several camps over the years and it was their choice which one they would do – lots of the aforementioned activities they are interested in, but we were only doing one and the one they both chose; Change is Simple at Camp Paradise.
This week-long camp was scheduled for August so we had some time to fill before that!I was thrilled to actually spend more time with my 3 boys this summer. In addition to the Camp Paradise Program, Change is Simple offered a summer adventure every Wednesday morning. This allowed my 7 and 10 yr olds to get out with some dudes much cooler than their mom: Dom, Duncan, and crew for mountain bike riding on the trails, hiking in the woods, snorkeling at the beach and more.
Change is Simple is not new to my kids, and has really become a big part of my life. I started getting involved when my oldest son Max was in 3rd grade when he started his lessons at his elementary school. I was intrigued and moved by the work they were doing and started volunteering and eventually joined the Board. Patrick, Lauren and the CiS team are doing possibly the most important work of our time; teaching the next generation to take care of things better than we have and discover that we are all in this together. They inspire kids to really make a difference; and you know what? this education works. Kids are excited about the lessons they are learning which empower them to make small changes in their daily lives, for big impact. Despite the seriousness of what they are learning, what the kids themselves take away is that these things are not only doable, but fun. Add educators, scientists, college student mentors with a sense of humor, a tool kit, creative ideas, boundless energy and you have a combustible mix of kid heaven. They can’t get enough of this stuff!
Camp is a more free-form continuation of these lessons beyond the classroom (and into the woods!) I felt last year when Max went to this camp that it was kind of like stepping back into the ’70’s (in a good way). I had great memories of free time spent with family friends when I was their age, cooking out in the woods, making camps and playing make-believe games. Kids now are so overwhelmed with marketing and companies trying to sell them things, and the lure of the screen and video games. This week in the woods was such a huge breath of fresh air, not just for them, but for me as well. It took me back to a simpler time in life. I drove up through the woods, and walked them into a clearing with a hut in amongst the trees, it was quiet, clear, magical, and most importantly, simple. That first day, they crafted cool headbands from crazy patterned material that they wore each day of camp as a badge of honor. I could feel the sense of community, love and laughter when they were picked up. They actually never wanted it to end. They had been running around all day long, making forts, making snacks, looking at nature, animals, energy; laughing, joking, telling stories - and honestly they could have been continually thrilled doing this for many weeks more; throw in some bunkbeds and they would have begged to live there! They certainly did not miss the technology that inherently comes along with the outside world and I loved that - simple = happy.
Though happily exhausted, each day they came home with some completely practical take-away from that day’s lessons and activities; one day a chart to track their actions and impacts, one day a ‘snack taxi’ they had made with scraps of materials, some water proof lining and velcro to replace plastic baggies, one day they made paper, and each day they excitedly returned with a recipe they had already made at camp and these boys were excited to cook! The recipes even included ‘green stuff’! Max tossed aside his summer bag, and ran straight to the fridge and cabinets to find black beans, onion, and cilantro for black bean dip which he happily debuted to friends on our next beach day. Henry was busy slicing carrots for carrot chips he had made with the CiS team the following day, and asking about chickpeas - this from the world’s largest fan of mac’n’cheese. To them, none of this felt like an unusual step into the realm of super healthy eating, natural ingredients and actually helping in the kitchen, they had just been hanging out with cool people, making stuff. All the recipes they brought home we are still using and they are much more comfortable chopping, creating and being part of meal-time prep.
As much as I was ready for school to begin, I am so grateful for these summer experiences and the lessons my boys learned and brought home. I heard from other parents many of the same things, some who had never actually done any camp before. They had happy post-camp kids who took lots home with them after this special week. This was the simplest yet best camp experience they have had. True connections, true learning, simple fun and love all around. I am grateful for everything I have gained from the work this organization does, the people who run it, and the people it attracts who I have gotten to know and call friends. I am also so thankful my boys get to experience this. We could not be luckier to have them in our community. We are counting down the weeks and days ‘til next year at Camp Paradise and I look forward to having two boys who will be prepping some super healthy snacks between now and then (and one who will be when he is old enough!). #boys #summer #fun #making #doing #learning #simpleisgood #changeissimple
Want to get involved? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog Post by Amy Holland Crafton, Friend, Supporter and Board Member