I’m writing to let you know about the experience my two daughters had at Sherwood Camp this past summer and its wonderful lasting effect on our family. We first came to Sherwood Faire in February of this year. We live in Dallas and are regular patrons of other Texas faires (since the 80s) but for some reason we never made it to McDade. I really needed a break from the work/school rat race, so we made plans. It instantly became my favorite Faire EVER. I was blown away by the labyrinth hiding in the trees, the stone circle, the awesome vendors with handcrafted wares (no mass produced crap), the reasonable prices, the amazing fairy garden, the respectful children’s area, great music and most of all, the great energy coming from patrons and employees alike.
But I digress. I loved it so much, I signed up my 12 and 8 year-old daughters for summer camp. The focus on real-life skills seemed a perfect fit for our kids. And it was. The girls have both used lessons learned at camp in school projects this year already–one for science (a PowerPoint presentation on herbology) and one for language arts (an original, fairy-tale version of “The Muffin Joke”).
But beyond the skill set that they walked away with, they acquired a sense of place at Sherwood. They bonded incredibly with the other kids and the staff (there were tears upon our departure, as they sang us farewell). This past weekend, we attended the Celtic music festival along with a fellow camper who lives in another city. When my 8 year old saw her 13-year old camp-mate at the motel, she charged toward her at top speed, leaped into her arms, and hugged her with arms and legs. When the kids got to the faire grounds, they said they were “Home.” Whatever your counselors did, it fostered a sense of belonging, stewardship of the land, and protection of the like-minded people who share it. I am jealous and want “in” the Club!!
My kids have both attended sleep-away camps before and always said they had a good time “but. . . .” With Sherwood there was no “but. . . “. They loved the activities, devoured the food, felt respected, and gained independence. Both girls want to camp multiple weeks next summer, and we are happy to let them do it. Thank you so much for creating a place where our kids can learn practical skills and also experience first hand the magic of community–their community.
Kim is available to speak to new parents about Camp. If you would like to get in touch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request our References document.
This was his first sleep away camp. He was nervous, and I was nervous. This is a only child who’s pretty much a loner; friendly, but awkward and addicted to technology like everyone else. He’s very bright, but has a lot of self-doubt. He’s not into sports or any outdoor activity. When he expressed an interest in coming to your camp, I latched onto it as a beacon of hope! I spent a week or two every summer of my childhood at camp and loved every minute of it. I wanted him to have that experience.
Before camp started, he and I went over the rules; Listen to your counselors, follow the rules, and even if something scares you or the food looks different, try it once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it or eat it. But the most important rule of all was to have fun and be silly. Be yourself, don’t worry whether you fit in or people like you, because if you be yourself, people will like you. And if you hate it there, you never have to go back. If you love it there, then mission accomplished!
All week long, I scoured the pictures on Facebook, judging his expressions and body language. It looked really good! And thank goodness for the hundreds of pictures!! I kept telling everyone that when he came home, he was either going to thank me or hate me.
Saturday came faster than I thought it would. When the campers came marching up to the stage with their faces shining brightly, he was at the head of the pack, beaming from ear to ear! His first words to us were “This was SO much fun!” Then he told us he missed us.After the play and gathering of items, he talked incessantly about everyone and everything that he had done while at camp. He showed off everything he had made, not only to us, but to our neighbors and friends. Throughout the week after, he would tell me new things, and repeat things, and best of all, he says he wants to come back!
I see a real change in him. He’s more comfortable in his own skin. He has bragging rights to the coolest summer camp out of everyone we know. He’s thinner and stronger and much more confident and helpful.
So thank you. Thank you for giving him the best experience of his life (his words, not mine). Thank you for taking care of him. Thank you for treating him with respect and not talking down to him. Thank you for opening his eyes up to nature and art. And thank you for warming a mom’s heart, knowing that he was loved and well cared for.
He will be back next year, hopefully for more than one session, and probably every year after that until he becomes a counselor in training and then a counselor.
Ann is available to speak to new parents about Camp. If you would like to get in touch, please email email@example.com to request our References document.
2013 Camper (Druid)
SFSC is a wonderful and enriching experience. As a homeschooler, it’s important to give my children every opportunity I can manage. This was my daughter’s first “summer camp”, when it opened 2 years ago, and though we were somewhat wary of the drive (9 hours round trip), it was worth it. These are very knowledgeable, well trained and friendly people. Parents, if you have never sent your child to a summer camp, then you should really give this one a try. If you have, then why not do something different? It’s so unique, and the festival grounds are lovely… I am so happy that we found SFSC for our children!
Jessica is available to speak to new parents about Camp. If you would like to get in touch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request our References document.
How do you know your kid had a good time? When she looks at you over the aisle during final performance and you can see she doesn’t want to leave. Perhaps it’s when you give her a hug for a job well done and she immediately asks if she can come back next year. Maybe it’s that moment when you go get the lovely crafts she made and she talks incessantly about everything she did over the last six days. Or it could be the drive back when she will only speak to you in the Queen’s English. For me, it was when she not only planned next year, but every year thereafter, telling me that she wants to be a counselor in training when she ages out, then a counselor. SFSC was one of the most fulfilling experiences for my daughter and I know it will be the same for any child who goes. The staff is amazing and the skills that they learn are both educational and enjoyable. Who knew learning could be so fun!
Sara is available to speak to new parents about Camp. If you would like to get in touch, please email email@example.com to request our References document.>
To the staff at Sherwood Forest Summer Camp, and to the Community of Friends in general…
Thank you. I picked up my son, Xander, from summer camp yesterday, and I have hardly stopped thinking about his experience and many other things about the Faire since then. I say “thank you” for all of the ways that you touch the lives and bring happiness to the kids who attend summer camp, and to the friends of the Faire. My family has been attending the Faire since your first year…every year (and this year in particular, many, many weekends) and it is not an exaggeration to say that, of all the things I do with my family every year, of all the traditions with which we mark time, and memory, and growing up, Sherwood Forest Faire is absolutely one of the very best highlights of the entire year. When the end of March rolls around, I always feel a bit melancholy that I will need to wait an entire year to experience it all again…no matter how much happiness we’ve had from the spring season.
It was a natural fit to extend Xander’s excitement by sending him to summer camp at Sherwood for the first time this year. Last year was probably the first time he really thought about it, and he has been wanting to go since then. We didn’t take for granted how special it would be to be in the forest, with all of the great folks from the Faire, during the off-season summer months…and when I dropped off Xander a week ago, I was reminded of all the reasons that I love this community so much…the beauty of the forest, the density of the lovely trees, all of the creativity, love, and joy that makes Sherwood Forest such a truly special place.
As we drove around on the red dragon, with owner George Appling regaling us all the way, I was happy for Xander and envious that I couldn’t be there myself. By the time I gave him goodbye hugs at the Jerusalem pub, it was already apparent how exciting and real and different it would be for him to be with friends of his age in the forest, away from everything else, away from parents, in his own space, surrounded by nature and creativity for an entire week. I thought of him often throughout the week, imagining him making candles, doing swordplay with Oskar Hasselhof, and learning about herbs and archery. Yesterday, when I heard the entire group of kids singing to kill time before their final performances at the Greenwoode Theatre, I knew everything had been as rich as I had hoped for. I heard those little voices with all of the joy that is usually reserved for the long-time adult friends, drinking at the pub, and they sounded so connected, so un-self-conscious, so genuinely happy, that I knew they had found each other during the week.
Before Xander, his mother and I departed yesterday, it was great visiting with so many members of the staff . Xander looked like a bit of a zombie, no doubt from not getting enough sleep, and probably from the (good) emotional intensity of the week. I enjoyed hearing from Jason what the week had been like, about how much Xander was in his element on the stage, how his singing voice was always the loudest, and how he dealt with the tears of a broken heart mid-week. And when I saw Xander and Thorin hug — a true close hug, the way that life-long friends hug, with real warmth and care – I was genuinely touched. (Today, Xander told me, “if I ever need a step-dad, it would be Thorin.”) When I prepared Xander’s care package for him while packing, I told him that I hoped this experience would include memories and feelings that he would treasure into adulthood. I am confident that is exactly what Sherwood Forest Summer Camp will mean to him. It is a testament to how connected Xander felt to everything at camp that his re-acclimation to “regular” life on Sunday was not entirely easy…he felt a bit off-kilter, there were some tears, and he commented more than once how much he felt like he’d grown up in the space of week. (Xander’s mother also told me that when he got back to his room, at her house, he insisted on setting up his cot and sleeping on it, instead of the bed…and he has already made new play time appointments with his new friends from camp, Carter, Saxon, and Aurora…they are getting together tomorrow, to attend the movies and go swimming).
Anyway, I am writing because all of you have made this possible. All of you have played some part in creating and sustaining a really beautiful, joyous, and meaningful place that builds bonds between people and that helps families, kids and friends to feel the joy of just being alive, surrounded by good people.
You are good people. You give of yourselves, you plan, you are responsible and thoughtful, and you remain true to the soul and vision of Sherwood…that’s why it’s different from other fairs, and that’s why it has come to mean to so much to so many in a short period of time. I feel lucky to look forward to it every year. I feel lucky to be able to offer such a wonderful summer experience to my son at the camp. So much about Sherwood reminds me of all the values and the kinds of people that I enjoy most in the world.
In the future, my family and I will continue to look for more ways to be part of the community. Xander has two younger siblings, age 3 and 5. The only thing we are trying to figure out, so that we can participate in more gatherings and the like during the off-season, is how to have the reassurance that the little ones can be safe and fast asleep while the adults (mom and dad) can also enjoy their fun with the clans. (If anybody has any thoughts on that front, I’m all ears!…Seriously.)
In closing, thank you for caring about the kids that attend camp, and about the adults and friends of the Faire. Your love for what you create is apparent, and it’s wonderful to see how the creation just keeps growing and growing. If ever there was something good and magical that is greater than the sum of its parts, Sherwood Forest Faire is it. Xander and I and our family look forward to continuing to be a part of that.
Eddie is available to speak to new parents about Camp. If you would like to get in touch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request our References document.