Archive for the ‘Cool Camp Blog’ Category

Putting music to the Spirit of Cool Camp

Posted on:


Photo Credit to Cisco Wallace

Cisco (third grade) snapped this photo of Niko, Caroline, and myself during the week of Cool Camp as we collaborated to uphold a long-held KMS tradition of writing songs about Cool Camp. After bidding the Cool Campers farewell, I declared to the rest of the children, “As of this moment, KMS is Cool School for the rest of the week.”

I invited anyone who wanted to join me in writing a Cool Camp / Cool School song and Caroline and Niko signed up. From 9:00am to noon, it was as if Caroline (first grade), Niko (kinder), and I were in a rockstar band recording tunes inside of Studio KMS. With a single guitar, two kid song-writers, and a fabulous photographer, we began assembling the musical pieces to a ballad that would eventually find its way to the top of the Cool-Camp/Cool-School song charts. Indeed, we can all happily say that “Cool Camp, Cool School, We Love You” – will go down in history as one of the greatest Cool Camp/Cool School Songs ever written.

As I reflect on the experience of writing this song, I recall the determination and joyful willingness to persevere. I would often ask the girls if they wanted to take a break, do something else, and come back with a fresh head. The answer was always “no.”   “We don’t need a break, let’s just get through it and finish this song!” Caroline would say, along with Niko’s agreement. This shared commitment to never give up, to work together and to push on through until the end is indicative of the kind of attitude the students of KMS cultivate every day.

Long Live the Spirit of Cool Camp and Cool School!

Cool Camp, Cool School, We Love You

by Niko, Caroline, and Allen

Cool Camp, Cool Camp, we love you

We’re having fun how bout you?

We hope you get to swim

Enjoy the sun, and hiking

We hope you like roasting marshmallows too

We’re all friends at Cool School

But we’re also friends at Cool Camp

Wherever you are, we always love you

Cool School, Cool School, we love you

We hope you learn ‘cause we’re learning too

Everybody has freedom

Bring back something for the museum

And remember to leave the campsite clean

We’re all friends at Cool School

But we’re also friends at Cool Camp

Wherever you are, we always love you

The day you left

We missed you so much

But we still got through the day

Our field trip was fun

But something went wrong

The bee dude decided not to come

We’re all friends at Cool School

But we’re also friends at Cool Camp

Wherever you are, we always love you


“You Can be Free. You Can be Wild.” Cool Camp Trip, April 2016

Posted on:

“You Can be Free.  You Can be Wild.”

Cool Camp Trip, April 2016


“Cool Camp is fun, it’s awesome, you get to jump off a giant rock, you get to make dinner, you get to zoom around, you don’t have to listen to orders.  You can be free.  You can be wild.  You can sleep outside.  You can climb giant rocks.  It’s really fun!” -Eilish 

Please click here for a three page PDF with more quotes and photos from this special trip.

Cool Camp Wrap-up

Posted on:

Last night we wrapped up Cool Camp with a campfire and some much-anticipated s’mores. We all shared compliments with each other, and our youngest first-time camper Henry (Age 6) had some beautiful things to say. As he told me this morning, “At the last campfire when we do compliments, I complimented everybody for being so nice and kind at cool camp. Everyone was just being so good, and it looked like really fun stuff was going on, and everyone looked really happy, especially at night because everyone likes sleeping.”

To encourage reflection and sharing the Cool Camp experience, the students each wrote a letter to someone about their experiences at Camp. As one child put it, “We’ll share what is in our heart about Cool Camp.” Some chose to write to their parents, some to their siblings, and some to “a future Cool Camper.” A lot of thought and work went into these letters. Maddie found some time before breakfast away from the group to work on her letter:


Maya’s (age 6) letter to her mom is below. To see a few more examples click here. 


When we got back to KMS this afternoon the Campers were excited to share their letters with their friends and families, and were effusive in talking about their experiences at Camp. They’re already thinking ahead to returning next time! As I said at our campfire last night, I feel so lucky to have found a school that values these kinds of irreplaceable outdoors experiences. Long Live Cool Camp!


Cool Camp: Fifth Grader Edition

Posted on:

Today was another amazing Cool Camp day. At this point in the trip you notice the team really coming together and sharing their “Cool Camp Spirit.” We’re also nearing the end, and for our fifth graders that comes with some sadness and nostalgia. Some of them have been here nine or ten times, growing from being the youngest to the oldest, mirroring their time in the mixed-age Elementary program.

The fifth graders offered to cook dinner for everyone on their last night.

It’s so special to see the bonds shared within the group, both between ages and especially amongst the oldest kids who have known each other for years. Compared to summer camps where kids only come together for a week or two at a time, the bonds that are forged in the wilderness and are able to be carried back to civilization are deep and visible. We closed the night with a campfire, and the fifth graders had some time to themselves at the end of the night to reflect on their experiences here.


Soren, Logan, Nina, and Isaac – KMS Graduating Fifth Graders at Cool Camp

As Soren said, “A message I’d send to future campers is that Cool Camp is awesome. Make sure to enjoy it while you’re here because it won’t last for long.”

Cool Camp: Day Two

Posted on:

The Reggio ideal of documentation involves observing, deep noticing, and active listening during our experiences, followed by reflection afterwards. With this mindset I came to Cool Camp armed with a camera, a pencil, and wide open eyes and ears. It has been incredible to capture moments of discovery, and use the documentation to discuss with the children afterwards. This real-world learning is so beautiful, and the conversations will be continued even after we return to KMS. What follows are three short interviews from both brand new and experienced Cool Campers.

Maddie, Age 8 (first time camper)

“I was excited because everyone said there was going to be no water but then there was water. I learned that when you get a leaf and put it in water and put it on something, you can see through it. I thought it was cool that we got to see animals like frogs, turtles, and horses. I also thought it was cool that during the night I heard coyotes and a horse coming through near where we were sleeping.”


“This is me at the river, jumping from rock to rock, playing with Maya and Lola.”

 Lola, Age 7 (third time camper)

“When I first came here this porch had stairs that I remember because I came when I was a baby for my vacation. There was a lot of water so I played with my dad in the water. Now when I came it’s all dry, we went to the waterfall and we played in this little pond.”


 “I was having fun and being sweaty, playing around.”

Aedan, Age 8 (fifth time camper)

I love jumping from rock to rock, and discovering new things. Today I found out that you can make chalk from a certain type of rock. Cool camp is awesome!


“I was seeing through a leaf that was pretty awesome. It was clear, and I’ve never seen a leaf like that.”


I’m excited to share more of the voices and stories from this rich experience with the whole KMS community!



Cool Camp: Day One

Posted on:

As a former camp counselor but a first-time Cool Camp teacher, I’m struck most immediately by the legacy being passed from experienced campers who have been here 4, 7, or even 9 times (!) to the brand new campers experiencing it for the first time. As we closed our opening meeting, Maya, a first-time camper, gave us a welcome speech perched upon a large rock:

IMG_4823“On my first day of Cool Camp I want to say I know that we’ll have fun even with the horse poop. Because that’s life. My hope for Cool Camp is for everyone to have fun.”


As we wrapped up at the end of the day, some of the more experienced campers shared wishes and guidance for the newer ones. Nina shared this wisdom, “Sometimes when you’re trekking along the river and you notice small things, you’re noticing the things that pop out but aren’t actually important. If you just stop, and look around, you’ll see those small things and then you’ll start to notice bigger things that are more hidden, and more interesting.”

I can’t wait to notice these hidden interesting things with Cool Campers new and old. Long Live Cool Camp!