As we sat in McCormick Auditorium waiting to board the school bus, I could only imagine what they might be thinking.  For some, this would be their first time sleeping away from home; for others, this would be the first time they would be with 16 other children for an overnight stay at camp.

Forty minutes into our journey, I could hear our 4th grade students questioning, “Are we there yet?”  Enthusiasm started to grow while anxiety subsided.  After seeing the first deer, the chatter got even louder.  We pulled off the main road onto a stone path, seeing more deer and a large lake.  This is beautiful, with the morning dew still on the grass as we take all our gear to our cabins!

The students decided who was going to have the top bunks, and we proceeded to the pavilion to start our geocaching activity.  Each 4th grader was handed a compass and clues where he or she would find the pouches.  Finding “north” was easy for some, but solving the ambiguous clues was not.  Once the students found all of the pouches, they were charged with organizing all of the lettered pieces of wood in the pouches to spell out a message.

After an amazing lunch of spaghetti — sauce not tasting like the sauce I get from the jar, thanks to Mr. Anthony Foschi — we took a 20-minute hike to the stream.  Mr. Bowman was there waiting for us, and he had already caught water creatures for us to identify.  Then the most exciting part… our own turn entering the creek and looking for our own creatures.  Everyone caught something, from salamanders, to crayfish, to actual fish.  The time was way too short, but during the hike back, the students all shared stories about what they caught.

Before our bonfire dinner, we had free time.  I was amazed that the football game needed no referee to settle questionable calls, as rock-paper-scissors determined the outcome.  Some chose to do crafts, some went looking for caterpillars, and others played basketball or kickball.   Not one needed an electronic device to entertain himself or herself.  I didn’t hear anyone complaining about boredom, either!

During the campfire, Sara S. ’17 (the daughter of Mrs. Karla Sherman) taught us some great campfire songs.  We headed back to the cabins in the dark, played flashlight tag, took showers, and went to bed.  The next morning we awoke, ate breakfast (during which you could hear all of the 4th graders singing the newly learned campfire songs), and went to the pavilion to learn about “pollution solution.”  After another hike, we arrived at the lake to dig a watershed —   starting with Mountain Creek, the creek we were in yesterday, and ending at the Atlantic Ocean.  We hiked back, ate lunch, and prepared to leave.

It was unanimous that all wanted to stay for another day, but unfortunately, our time at Camp Thompson was over.   The ride home was quiet, and the well-behaved 4th graders were all tired.  I’m not sure who had the better time, me or the kids, but if offered the chance to go again next year, I know what my answer is: YES!

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.