I know it’s pretty easy to do on the last day of camp, but our oldest campers had me in tears for most of the afternoon.
When we set up for carnival, it’s a free-range event; the kids play a variety of games which the staff are running in exchange for tickets to spend at the prize booth. Since the campers are free to roam around within the carnival space, we pair up bigs and littles so that the littles have someone to help them with the games and keep track of their tickets.
But that’s not quite what happened.
Instead, we saw Heartwood campers who were not just helpers, but completely devoted to their Sprouts:
I watched pair after pair of campers sitting down in the snack area to share a bag of popcorn or other treat and having a chat.
I saw a big helper who didn’t spend any of his tickets on himself, except for a few to buy a freezie. The rest of his tickets all went to buy his Sprout anything his little heart desired – including numerous snacks, “rockstar glasses”, two glow in the dark wands, and a wind-up robot.
Another Sprout had a meltdown when he realized the prize he was after had already been sold. The Heartwood camper who bought it immediately offered to resell it, and two others pooled their tickets to pay him back for it. (The kids had the whole issue solved before the staff even knew what happened!)
Two campers knew their Sprout was desperate to win the only PlayDoh set, so they conspired to pool their tickets together to buy it for her.
The best part of watching the Heartwoods take care of their Sprouts was not just that they were so generous with their tickets; it was the obvious joy they took in making our youngest campers happy. No one ever even suggested that they should spend their tickets on someone else; yet it came naturally and beautifully to them , and their faces were glowing as they did so.
Perhaps the most magical part of this whole story is that it wasn’t a last-day anomaly – our campers really are this nice to each other – but the format of carnival just highlighted it in an extra-beautiful way.
Parents of Heartwoods: You should be seriously proud of these amazingly caring, generous, selfless kids.
Parents of Sprouts & Shoots: Please know how loved your kids are by the older campers. As your monkeys get older, they’ll have some fantastic shoes to fill.
We are raising some seriously special kids here, people. These kiddos are giving me hope for the world.