by Beth Jones
There are so many fun activities that we get to do at Camp Gravatt. Some of my favorites are Polar Bear, archery, and high ropes, but by far my favorite thing at camp is mealtime. I know that it is not necessarily an activity, but it is a special part of camp all the same. While sitting down and eating a meal together is not a unique thing to our beloved camp, it is very crucial to the dynamic between counselors and their campers. Throughout the week each tent sits down together family style, the counselors go around and serve each child helpings of food, and bonds are formed between tent mates.
I believe that eating meals family style with my campers over the past three years is a critical part of how I have gotten to know each and every one of them. It helps to solidify what I try to tell my campers all week: we are a family here at Camp Gravatt. I want my campers to become friends, yes, but my real goal is for them to choose to be part of the camp family forever. The best stories are told at dinner, and the funniest jokes are enjoyed at breakfast. I love talking to everyone at the table, and I love getting everyone involved in the same conversation, it builds a bond between tent mates that emphasizes the connection every other activity at camp forges.
Counselors serve each child breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day. Serving them meals is the most visible way we give ourselves to our campers. It is such a beautiful thing to see the love and devotion and patience and generosity and compassion that my fellow staff members have for their kids. Each counselor has a unique approach to mealtime. And while I love being the one at the table serving my own campers, I also love watching from the kitchen window as my peers care for their children.
As a camper myself years ago, I didn't realize that I was learning and growing with my fellow campers during the short week that I was in the woods. Now as a staff member, I can see the confidence and faith and trust that each child gains every day, and it becomes evident at mealtime. Mealtimes at Camp Gravatt can be loud and crazy, but that is the chaos of strangers becoming friends and friends becoming family.
Beth Jones has served as a summer camp counselor at Gravatt for three years, and is the 2016 waterfront director.