What They Did on Their Summer Vacations

by Sarah Kadden


“Make me a jaguar.  No. No! Make me a deer.  I live in the meadow!  I eat berries and grass and popsicles!”

“I am going to be a coyote. But I have a pink nose.”

I was a coyote, too, and we had with us a few rabbits, a chipmunk, a dog, three horses and at least one penguin (we made an ecological exception for the penguin).  It was a fairly typical afternoon at summer camp here at Shelburne Farms, and we were exploring, playing, and building homes in the forest.

Summer is such a wonderful time for children to learn through play, and camp can provide a magical place where play, supported learning, and socialization coalesce.  With out the confines of a school building or an academic calendar, with a variety of other children and the opportunities that alternative learning spaces allow, children have the chance to learn about the world around them through imagination, socialization, interaction, and direct observation.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here are reflections on summer camp by two of our “graduates.”  Flannery Raabe is 14 years old and lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin.  Silva Warren, also 14, lives in South Hero, Vermont.  They have spent the last three summers together at Beyond the Barn camp, a week-long overnight camp for 10-14 year olds on Shelburne Farms, though both of them have been visiting the Farms and participating in summer programs since they were toddlers.  This summer was their last as campers, as next year they will be 15.



I love absolutely everything about camp, but some of my favorite things were morning milking, moving the cows, and just getting to spend time with all the animals. I love sitting around the campfire making s’mores with everyone, too, and playing Capture the Flag.  I think that it’s amazing how many new opportunities camp has provided me, things I would not have gotten to do otherwise.

Every time I’ve been to camp has been a little bit different, with new campers and counselors, and new activities. Every year, there has been something new that I’ve never tried before, things that I often find I really love. One thing we did that was completely different this year was getting to visit the raptors, and it was amazing to learn about everything, especially the Great Horned Owl we got to see.

My absolute favorite thing about camp is morning milking, and getting to swim right after. Swimming right after milking is great because you get to swim as the sun rises, and the water reflects the sun’s light, making everything look even more beautiful. Camp has been an amazing part of my summer, and I hope everyone else who gets a chance to go can have as much fun as I have.



Every summer at the end of Beyond the Barn the counselors ask us to think about what our highlight of the week is. The answer really is everything. I love being awake almost before the farm as we bike to the dairy for morning milking. I love seeing the sunrise reflect over the Adirondacks and the sleeping Inn. I love swimming at 7 am and seeing the Farm from dawn ‘till dusk. I love seeing the Farmyard after the last wagon has gone when it is just us and the animals. I love the philosophical discussions we have about what we should celebrate or what living off the land really means. I love how I have made friends, working hard, joking, laughing, burning our marshmallows, and capturing flags. I love living outside. I am very glad I got to spend part of my growing up on the Farm, from Adventures, to Farm camp, to Discovery camp, and Beyond the Barn and I can’t wait to Steward-in Training next year!

 Shelburne Farms offers a variety of summer camp experiences  that immerse  four- to fourteen-year-olds in agriculture, the outdoors, and play.

This article appeared in the SSP's Fall2011 Newsletter.

Download a PDF of the article here.

Download the Fall 2011 entire newsletter here.



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