While Culver Elementary School was closed due to the pandemic, teacher Mark Maes would use part of his online lesson time to read a book that dealt with building character to his fifth grade students. He would then ask his students to answer questions concerning the book’s theme as part of their assignment.
As Major Maes, he will be doing something similar for Culver Woodcraft Campers who have also been forced to stay home this summer. Titled “Milk and Cookies with Major Maes,” the six video sessions are designed to give campers a taste of camp while at home.
It was Woodcraft Camp Director Heike Spahn SS’86 who asked Maes to record a book reading for campers to watch.
“We were talking about a virtual summer presence,” Spahn said. “I had just watched one of Mark’s online book readings, so I thought he could read a book from the (Woodcraft) amphitheater.”
After that initial discussion, Maes’ one book reading expanded to six – one for each week of camp. The first one will be released next week, which would have been the opening week of camp. The “Milk and Cookies with Major Maes” series will be one of several social media pieces Culver Summer Schools & Camps will be producing to help keep Woodcrafters and Upper Schools students entertained and connected.
Milk and cookies before bedtime used to be a standard ritual at Woodcraft Camp. While the snacks have changed, the story-telling ritual remains. Maes said each of the books involves a camp theme. The videos run between four and 10 minutes.
While he filmed the series in one day, Maes changed locations and his clothes for each video. He believes the locations he selected will have meaning for the campers. One constant in each video is the presence of the milk and cookies, though not exactly the same ones. “I needed a snack,” he laughed.
The book kicking off the series is “A Campfire Tail” by Sarah Glenn Marsh. The books are geared toward children 9-to-12 years old, although Maes believes “the Gold C campers will enjoy them, too.”
Maes has been involved with Culver Woodcraft Camp since he graduated from Culver Community High School in 2011. He has mostly recently served as the major of the Cubs’ Division 3. He enjoys working with the younger group, he said. “Our personalities match more.”
The book session links will be released each week on Culver Summer Schools & Camps’ social media outlets. Maes believes Woodcrafters will enjoy this “taste” of a Culver summer.
After watching the videos, Spahn agrees.
“My hope is that these weekly books will make kids feel like they are back at camp.”