During this time, which happens twice daily (once after lunch and once after dinner), the Book Nook and Game Playce are open for games and reading; the basketball court is always hopping with activity, arts-n-crafts is open, and the field usually offers an organized sport or game. Each day, different clubs and specials are offered - including chess tournaments, crafts, theater games, running club, origami, kite-making, ping-pong tournament, language, songwriting, etc.
Free Play begins with the Free Play Meeting on the blacktop with the whole camp. During the Meeting, announcements are made, special activities available are revealed, and the Free Play song is sung. Also at each meeting, campers are reminded of boundaries and expectations. Free Play is a confidence-building time for campers, with twice-daily opportunities to practice making good choices and having positive social interactions.
The Buddy and Security Post System
All Pioneers, most Navigators, and some teen campers (depending on their level) are paired with a staff Buddy during Free Play. Campers have the same Buddy for the day during AM and PM Free Play, and a new Buddy the next day. Buddies travel around camp with their campers, encouraging them to pick activities and think through how they spend their hour -and of course participating with them! Campers who have been at camp for at least one summer (and therefore have experience with the Free Play expectations) and who show significant maturity and appropriate behavior can earn their "Explorer" status, an additional level of independence which does not require them to have a Buddy at their side.
During Free Play some staff, instead of being a Buddy, have "security posts" - they are spread out on the main paths of camp at pre-set locations. Each Security Post can see the ones to either side of them - so they maintain a chain of visual contact and constant supervision as Explorers and Buddy Pairs walk from place to place. In this way, Explorers are never unsupervised and Buddies are never alone with children.