The boys will also have some fun theme days this summer! They are listed below. Enjoy!
First Term and Second Term: RV Spirit, School Spirit, Camo Day, Fiesta
Third Term: 4th of July/Patriot Day, Camo Day, Neon Day, RV Spirit, Fiesta
This summer, we have some fun theme days planned for each term. It’s always fun for the campers to pack some theme-day attire and show off their silly-side. Some show their silly-side more often than others and we love it. 🙂 Camp is an amazing place where they can be as ridiculous as they want and not worry what anyone else thinks. It’s a safe place to be themselves – or be a nerd for a day! Below are the scheduled theme days for this summer, by term. Have fun!
:First Term and Second Term:
First week of camp: Vista Spirit Day, Nerd Day
Second week of camp: Camo Day, Fiesta
First two weeks of camp: 4th of July, Nerd Day, Vista Spirit, 80’s Day
Second two weeks of camp: Camo Day, Fiesta
Here’s a quick Tuesday pick-me-up if you needed one. And if you didn’t need one, it’s icing on the cake of your already amazing day! 🙂 Another college essay from another superb SV counselor. Thank you, Miss Sophie L.!
As we pulled into the gates, I drew a quick breath. Framed by the rugged limestone hills of the Texas Hill Country, Camp Sierra Vista was beautiful, with wide fields and a canopy of trees overlooking the lazy Guadalupe River. My heart was racing from a mix of excitement and nervousness. I’d never been away from home for very long, and even though I’d convinced my parents to send me for a week, as I peered out the car window at the bustle of campers arriving the one week ahead of me felt eternal.
I walked into my assigned cabin and saw the long rows of bunk beds lined up against the walls. “Uh oh, this is the first hard part,” I thought to myself. Like a new kid at a school cafeteria not knowing where to sit, I didn’t know how to pick a bunk. What if the girls were mean, or didn’t want me to sleep there? Just then, a smiling counselor came up and held out an upside-down black hat containing little strips of paper. I reached in and pulled out a strip. “Oh, you have Italy, that’s the bottom bunk in the corner,” she chirped. I walked over, relieved that I hadn’t had to make any decisions for myself.
Luckily, camp life was so full that my anxieties quickly disappeared. Days were spent under the hot sun playing soccer, riding horses, going off the rope swing and making friendship bracelets. The nights were filled with stargazing and long talks with new friends. I remember when my parents arrived I ran up to them and the first words out of my mouth were “Next year I want to come for two weeks!”
Camp was a magical place, full of traditions, adventure and simple goodness. My second year there I tried activities I had never even heard of like making “puppy chow” (a chocolate, Chex Mix, marshmallow hodgepodge of gooey sweetness) and bouncing sky-high off the Blob into the river. Every year I found myself coming out of my shell a little more. My third year I trained for and competed in War Canoe, the final and most intense tribal competition, which required blood, sweat and tears…literally. In my fourth year I earned “Most-Valuable” in war canoe for demonstrating grit and was selected by the counselors to join the Starguiders, a select group of model campers.
My fifth year, my last as a camper, I faced a decision I’d struggled with the entire school year – whether to run for tribe chieftain, the highest position, and the most visible. The election process brought back first-day fears. I worried about failing, and doing so publicly. Then I realized that I would never achieve my goal if I didn’t try.
I stood up on Tribe Hill, the faces of 50 girls, from age 6 to 16, each unique, peering back at me. I took a slow breath and began to read my speech. As I read, my heart expanded and my voice was strong. That was the moment I knew I had changed. I felt confident that I had what it took to be a leader. Before attending camp, I would never have wanted the responsibility of leading all those girls through our victories and defeats in tribal competitions. To be their example, and the one to encourage or at times be firm. But there I was…and it felt empowering. I won the election, but even if I hadn’t, I still would have accomplished something that, a few years before, I would never have imagined myself trying.
This past summer, my sixth, I returned as a counselor and held out a hat to guide nervous, new girls to their bunks. Camp has shown me who I want to be: Strong, independent, kind, caring, adventurous and open-minded, daring enough to risk failure. And camp gave me the space to become just that.
We have, hands down, the most AMAZING camp counselors here at Vista Camps. About 80% (or more) of these counselors have grown up coming to camp here in the Vista Bubble, so we have had the privilege of watching them blossom into amazing young adults. There is something heart-melting about seeing young men and women whom you have known since they were in Hawks Hilton or The Fort (the youngest cabins) leading activities and dining hall songs as counselors. The pride and nostalgia that I know they feel when telling the story of the “Great Spirit” at Opening Campfire is really too hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I honestly can’t think of the words that my heart would so love to describe to you. All that comes to mind is “goosebumps”, “overwhelming joy”, and “crying happy tears”. Year after year, our sweet counselors continue to bless us with their energy, creativity, love of life and of the tradition of Vista. They give 110% of themselves every single day from sun-up to way after sun-down, to make sure our sweet campers are having as good of a time here in the Vista Bubble as they did as campers. We love hearing from them during the school year, especially about how Vista Camps made a difference in their lives. We’ve seen the transformation happen before our eyes, by spending weeks with them each summer, but to hear their camp testimony in their own words is pretty special. Here are two more essays that a couple of Sierra Vista counselors have shared with us over the last couple of years. I know you’ll be able to relate if you’ve been here before!
“It is a common idea in modern society that kids don’t take much away from summer camp other than the knowledge of how to make a friendship bracelet or paddle a canoe. While I did become quite good at both of those activities over my seven summers as a camp kid, I took away a lot more than that from my time spent at camp. Camp taught me how to be independent, brave, and both a leader and a follower; all skills that I use in my daily life. I learned how to make new friends and deal with enemies, as well as how to treat my opponents respectfully and with good sportsmanship, because at times they were my best friends. Camp was where I mastered the two-minute shower, an essential skill for those of us living in Southern California right about now, as well as how to most efficiently complete every-day tasks. My conflict resolution skills improved astronomically, a natural evolution considering that I was living with fifteen other girls for a month. I even learned a lot more about the outside world through conversations with international campers! As someone who has had the opportunity to be both a camper and a counselor, I have learned how to be responsible not only for myself, but also for others. But most of all, camp taught me how to be an individual, and that I will be loved despite my flaws and eccentricities. And when I do forget these lessons, such as good sportsmanship or self-confidence, I think back to my sunny months at Sierra Vista, and they remind me to be the best person that I can be. My experiences at camp helped transform me from an introverted ten-year-old coping with things she could hardly understand into the confident young woman who is currently applying to college. While my days as a camper are behind me and my days as a counselor are growing ever-more limited, my memories from those summers past will stay with me forever and help to remind me of the amazing things that have made me into the person I am today.” – Alex T. (7 year camper, 4 year counselor)
“Growing up, I was the person who always stuck to the norm. I wore the same outfits as everyone else, I listened to the same music as everyone else, and I acted the same way as everyone else. I was a follower. I began to blend in and eventually no one knew who I really was. This all changed when I met my summer camp counselor, Holly Wright. She not only made two weeks of my summer a blast, she taught me valuable life lessons that I can use throughout my life such as how to be myself and how to be a leader. Holly has impacted me in a way no other person has.
The most important life lesson Holly taught me is to be myself and stand out. At camp, I was always being overshadowed by my cousin because she was older and more outgoing than I was. I stayed to my reserved self and just went along with the flow. That is, until I saw Holly and the way she was not afraid to be crazy and goofy in front of a bunch of teenage girls she had just met. Slowly, throughout the two weeks, Holly would pull me out of my shell by getting me to act silly with her. At the end of the day, she made me realize that I was not going to go far in life by trying to be invisible, or one of the pack. Through her unspoken words and gestures, Holly showed me who I was meant to be.
As Holly taught me it was okay to stand out, she also impacted my life by teaching me how to be a leader. During camp, the campers are split up into two tribes and have daily competitions. Within those two tribes there are officers. When I was just thirteen years old I was nominated to be my tribe’s chieftain. I was hesitant to take on this position because being shy, I was not the type of person who liked a lot of attention and I certainly was not the type of person who liked telling other people what to do, especially if they were older than me. For the rest of that day Holly could tell I was acting strange. She could see that I was uneasy about being in charge so she pulled me aside and said just five words, “We see something in you.” Those words encouraged me to be the chieftain. Throughout the term, Holly stood by my side and taught me how to lead. She taught me when to be strict and when to be easy going. She taught me how to encourage others and how to be an example for them. She not only taught me how to be a leader, but molded me into a great leader.
After I met Holly, it was easy to see just how much she impacted my life. At camp, I went on to be my tribe’s chieftain three years in a row. I was also initiated into the Starguiders, an elite tribe of girls who serve as role models for the younger campers. To be initiated, all thirty camp counselors have to agree that you are a leader, that you are outgoing and enthusiastic about camp, and that you are someone the younger campers can count on. Within the Starguider tribe, I took on the role of different officer positions including chieftain. As well as leadership positions, I also received many awards because of the person Holly helped mold me into. Among these awards was “The Most Outstanding Camper” which is the highest award a camper can achieve.
Not only did Holly have an impact on my camp life but also my school life. At school, I was putting myself out there more. I made new friends and people actually got to know who the real me was. I also took on more officer positions in the various clubs and organizations I was involved in such as Co-Captain of my volleyball team and Secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America. As I prepare to go to college and then out into the real world, I hope to take these lessons and apply them to my everyday life by not blending in with other students or colleagues and to not be afraid to take charge or give orders. I am thankful to have met Holly that summer because without her I would not be the person I am today. She taught me skills that will last me a lifetime and because of that she is the person who has impacted my life the most.”
– Emily B. (6 year camper, 1 year counselor)
More to come! Have a blessed day!
I keep a folder in my e-mail in-box labeled “Sweet notes / testimonies” that I add to every year. E-mails sent in from parents who have just picked up their child on Closing Day for the first time, telling us how surprised they are at the positive change they are already noticing, and parents/grandparents who have been with us for decades telling us about the connections they made at camp, the life lessons they learned, the sense of pride and confidence that they gained… all good things! Every once in a while, I’ll click on the folder and read through some of them, just for a pick-me-up. It reminds me why we do what we do here at Vista. Not that I need a “why”! I’m one of Vista’s biggest fans and have loved this magical place since my first year as a camper (1991). Actually, down below are two pictures I just found today from my first Hawks Hilton year…. Short brown hair, rockin’ the crop top, YEP that’s me!
I’m a 2nd generation camper at Vista Camps and now my kiddos attend each summer. My life has been forever changed by this place, as every life is that drives across the Guadalupe River and into the Vista Bubble. So, when I get e-mails from parents and campers describing the impact that camp has made on their children and in their own lives, my heart swells and my eyes fill up with tears. No joke. Put on some Tracy Chapman or Chicago, which were Sierra Vista CD staples back in my day, and I’m a blubbery mess! I’ll have to share my full Vista Testimony on here one day, but I wanted to start with some of the sweet notes in my folder. It’s so funny, because parents and campers will e-mail us, thanking us for what we do and sharing their love for everyone here, when we honestly feel the EXACT same way about them. This is a precious family and I’m so thankful you guys are in it! Enjoy these little Vista Love Letters and if you’d like us to share your Vista story with the world, send it to sarak [at] vistacamps [dot] com. We’d love to know how much camp means to you. XOXO
Real life e-mails I read to fill my cup…
“Dear Vista Camps Staff..
E just returned from her first trip to camp and I wanted to take the time to thank you. The only way I can think to describe my gratitude is to say thank you for “filling her back up”. During the year we both worked hard at school and while E is a great student that pours her heart and soul into school, all the time spent logging reading minutes, memorizing math facts and testing left us both empty at the end of the year. And then she went to camp and you filled her back up with everything that matters.
You filled her with confidence that she can be “on her own” and be just fine. Faith in her cabin, her tribe, her camp and the much wider circle of friends that she now has. Knowledge that truly great people do exist in the world that care about her like we do. Adventures to last a lifetime (thank you Beth Rumbo for the blob, giant slip and slide and all the other amazing activities). And hope that, at least at camp, time will stand still for her and all her favorite traditions about camp will be there next summer (and oh yes will there be a next summer for her.) You’ve filled her up and me as well. With every picture I saw of her at camp I could see in her eyes how much fun she was having and it filled me up too. We still have a lot of summer to enjoy and fill ourselves back up before next year but I can’t thank you enough for her week at camp. So as we get on to school next year I’m sure we will both do things with a slightly lighter heart knowing that when we reach the finish line and we’re on empty, we’ll have our time at Vista Camp to fill us back up.
Much Vista Love and Cheers,
-K (E’s Momma)”
“M loved his Rio Vista camp experience so much last year that he made us sign him up right there and then on pick up day. And, he came back from camp happier, a little taller, more confident and ready to take on the challenge of a new school, new country and new culture and new friends in what is his home country…but one that he hadn’t lived in for 8 years.
That stress of repatriating and making new friends again, coupled with my major health struggle, make camp all the more special and important to help M unplug, get dirty and challenge himself. Camp will guide him in learning about what his strengths and gifts are and how to use them to better the world and help others. Camp will become his anchor and safe place that this only child can get away to and know that friends (aka RV brothers) await him there every summer. To some kids, camp is probably just a lot of fun and down time away. But, for M, because of our moving back from living abroad in small apartments for the past 8 years, and because of my illness, camp is so much more.
We can’t wait to tell him this evening that he’s going to Rio Vista 3A! Woohoo! Go Sioux! 😉 We’re still trying to find a friend to go to camp with him, but if that doesn’t pan out, no worries. He will be excited to see his old pals from session 3 last summer!
Lot’s of love from our grateful family to all of you.
J, M and M (mom, dad, and camper)”
I love this one from an RV alum from 1969! It’s amazing how the memories of camp stick with you for so long.
“My name is Mike F. I was born July 1, 1957. I attended RV month of July, 1969. cabin counselors were Bruce and Vick. My parents and I lived in Florida at the time but we had relatives in hunt, TX.
My parents were mildly disappointed when my first letter came to them announcing that the thing I liked best at camp was playing “bombardment”(a form of dodge-ball). They were rather hoping for tales of adventure in archery, canoeing, and the like. I did later get to enjoy these more classic camping activities.
Very memorably, the whole camp walked a few hundred yards to someone’s large yard nearby to watch the first moon landing on a b&w tv screen placed aloft so all the campers could watch.
The funniest/scariest thing that happened to me was when I dreamt that campers were supposed to bathe by jumping into the Guadalupe river. I was on the way to the river when my cabin mates started disappearing from my dream. Then, in real life, at 2AM, a counselor returning from Crider’s splashed a beverage in my face to rouse me from my walking slumber. Only then did I realize that I was actually only a few yards away from the river! Had I made to that river and jumped in…….well, who knows?
A great highlight for the boys was trekking over to Camp Mystic (the girls camp). Only problem: I had the worst case of chapped lips ever at that time (lips looked caked with chocolate frosting). One gal was kind enough to dance with me despite my alarming visage.
I still remember well the camp theme song,”Camp Rio Vista spirit is the best…” and the Golden Arrows tribal song,”year by year, day by day, in the Rio Vista way, Golden Arrows go rolling along…”
Cabin mates included Will Cox and Shipley. Carved on my bunk were the words,”brownie bear slept here.”
Many other great memories come to mind when I recall those days. It was a magical summer month.”
Sara again… I’ll share more later.. you should probably get back to work now! Fortunately, this is “work” for me! I get to relive my glory days in the Vista Bubble and talk to others about theirs! Winning! XOXO