It is hard to say, but this Day 5 recap will be the last one of 2023’s Camp Oz. With action, movement, play and laughter squeezed into every second of the day, the week flew by. For you new Camp Oz families out there, the pictures that I’ve packed into these blog posts are but a tiny tiny snapshot of the week. Next week I will officially compile the hundreds of pictures I took, the pictures from our professional photographer who visited on Tuesday and the pictures that our amazing nurses captured into a single online photo album. When it is ready, I will send out the link to every family and you’ll get to experience a little bit of Camp Oz in your own home. If a picture is worth a thousand words then prepare to read a pretty thick book!
Now onto the actual recap! We were introduced to a new set up for breakfast in the form of an oatmeal bar with numerous toppings and freshly baked blueberry muffins too. A heaping bowl of brown sugar certainly placed a lot of trust in each camper’s powers of restraint and I’m happy to say that only one camper needed to be reminded that they couldn’t just eat their carefully prepared bowl of straight sugar. There were however more than a few situations of, “would you like some oatmeal with that sugar?” Oh well!
As the campers left the dining hall, they were greeted with a big surprise on the A-Field: a slip n’ slide! After spending most of the week in slow roast temperatures, it was time to crank open the spigots and hoses for a good old-fashioned water day. This wasn’t just any slip n’ slide too but three of them put end to end plus a tarp on top of that. Epic slides happened left and right as campers tried again and again to reach the end of the slide. As fun as it was though, it turns out it couldn’t compete with the simple game of soaking everyone else over and over again. Water balloons, buckets, squirt guns and basically anything that could hold water were filled up time and time again because one soaking just wasn’t enough for their targets.
As you probably could have guessed, the rest period after lunch today was very very quiet and even some of those campers who scoffed at the idea of napping at the beginning of the week discovered the joy of a nice midday nap. The shut eye made sure afternoon activities were enjoyed to the fullest as each cabin finished off their schedules with swimming, horses and all of the other great little camp things. Seeing how the campers support each other during activities both big and small is really cool and it makes us so proud. You can tell how much it means to the campers to have their friends in their corner and how comfortable it makes them feel as they try new things. I even heard today that one kid tried a chicken tender for the first time in their life during lunch!
A pizza party dinner, an all-camp game called Messages and roasting s’mores over campfires made our last evening really special. Strategies about the best way to roast a marshmallow were exchanged as our satisfiedly worn-out campers stared into the dancing flames. We have our big closing campfire tomorrow morning but cabins took the chance tonight to more privately share reflections from their week with their cabinmates. We’ve seen so much growth in the maturity and independence of our campers over this week that I bet some really poignant and powerful things were shared about their Camp Oz experience.
We go through this every year but it will be so sad to pull the curtain on 2023’s Camp Oz. Even after 40 years, Friday always catches us by surprise with how quickly it rolls around. How did five days pass so fast? We will miss each camper dearly but we are beyond excited to let them tell you all how much fun they had this year. We know the memories and friendships won’t fade fast and you better believe that they’ll stick with Amy and I too. We are very grateful that you trust us with your kids every year because without them and without Camp Oz our jobs and lives would feel quite a bit emptier.
Camp Oz for life!
Assistant Camp Oz Director
Thank you to Mayo Clinic for sponsoring Camp Oz!