Monday, started strong with plenty of new faces. There was an obvious sense of pure joy and excitement to start the day and start the first activities of camp as staff made last-minute additions to their colorful, decorated themed rooms and campers practically flew through the door.
Flag began as all of the members of camp filed through the doors, to find themselves in the warm, morning sunshine. Arranging themselves in a circle, camp songs started and filled the air, voices carrying so resounding it was if the neighbors were receiving the most caring and lively morning alarm. The passion and spirit of flag intensified as the week went on, rather than diminishing throughout the days. It speaks to the predictability that the following weeks of summer camp will only continue to grow in zeal.
Monday flag was followed by a number of different activities for the summer camp, including music and dancing led by Specialty Leader Anna Carter, and Mad Scientist Monday, led by Specialty Leader Matthew Waring. Anna led her groups outside, encouraging participation through clapping, dancing and singing along. Matthew, started the groups’ activities in the main building of ESP, instructing campers on the basics of building their very own volcanos. Once they were ready for eruption, the group followed the Mad Scientist to the parking lot, where they watched their creations overflow onto the pavement with awe and joy! The afternoon featured bowling, which prompted smiles from all of the participants as all were able to partake and try their very best for a strike.
Tuesday was particularly exciting for the Vocational Unit, led by Tyler King. Tyler and his group were lucky enough to take a trip to the Athens Fire Station! Campers enjoyed their time by talking to the firemen and making new friends, learning about the fire station and the different equipment there, and learning about fire safety. They even got to take a trip down the firepole! The natural curiosity from all of the participants was evident as they were engaged with the firemen and the lessons that were being taught!
Wednesday after another fun Flag was followed by a few different activities, including dancing, making cookies and outside participation. Dancing was led by Matthew, the music loud enough to carry through all of the activity rooms. Sarah Anne Owens, unit leader of the Winter Wonderland group, had her group make their own homemade, decorated cookies. The teamwork and patience shown was enough to make any cookie 10 times better, because they were made with care and love. Participants got some fresh air both gardening a little ways behind the ESP gym, and swimming at Legion Pool. Gardening, similar to cookie-making, was made possible by teamwork, and we can’t wait to see what starts to grow in the following weeks! As for the pool, it’s safe to say all the campers and staff were looking forward to cooling down from the hot Georgia heat, and after getting all the campers on the buses, the smiles on the faces were evident as water splashed around and sunshine warmed the already joyous faces.
Thursday was another day full of activities. For Claire and the Youngest Unit, the morning meant a few hours of playing with moonsand, which helped build the friendships between new and old participants within the group. For Tyler Curtis and the Middle Unit, Thursday consisted of a day of what the unit leader calls, “Popcorn Super-Fuel.” After popping the popcorn, the unit decorated with white chocolate, sprinkles and marshmallows to make something unique they could take home later! The afternoon was followed by a refreshing trip to the pool.
Friday kicked off our first Friend Friday, where an extra-enthusiastic Flag took place with a few extra faces. Parents, ESP alumni, sponsors, Big Jump skydivers, Fan Club members, Board of Directors, Advocate Board, Lemonade Leaders, and our lunch sponsors for the day, Publix, came out and witnessed the fun of the first activity of the morning. Our Week One sponsors: Georgia Power, Golden Pantry, the Sign Bros, and Ameripride came out to support us as well! We were overjoyed to have all of you there to experience the fun and energetic morning with us! The rest of the day was spent outside in the warm sun. Music sounded through the camp, followed with sounds of laughter and even shrieking as campers and staff alike chased each other with mud and water. Huge smiles and a delicious lunch, thanks to Publix, were served for the rest of the day as the heat was forgotten and the excitement for the second week to start grew.