Archive for February, 2013

What’s the Weather Like?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The popularity of summer camp has spread in recent years, now regularly attracting children from all regions of the United States and abroad.  For many of these campers, it’s their first trip to the Northeastern United States.  So, naturally, one of the most common questions we get at Camp Weequahic is about the weather.  We’re not just saying this because we’re camp people: There couldn’t be a more perfect place to spend a summer than Northeast Pennsylvania!

The mountain air is clean and crisp!  Many of our campers and staff members frequently comment on how nice it is to be free of the smog of the big cities in which many of them live.  During the day, the temperatures are typical of summer weather.  Because Camp Weequahic is in the mountains and borders a lake, the temperatures tend to be a few degrees cooler than in lower lands.  However, the summer sun still shines very brightly on the vast majority of the days, and it can get a bit warm.  We encourage campers to stay well hydrated, though, and wearing sunscreen is a must!  Shorts and tank tops or t-shirts are usually the most appropriate daytime attire.

We think that perhaps the best part of getting to spend our summers at camp, however, are the evenings.  Temperatures cool down just enough to make most nights perfect for campfires and outdoor activities.  Most campers take a sweatshirt to their evening activities. They may not always need one, but it’s a nice thing to have around just in case.  Our favorite thing about nights at camp, though, is the sky. Because our camps are in rural areas, there is very little light pollution, so you can actually see the stars!

It rains very seldom at camp, but the advantage of being on a mountain is that the water drains downward and it’s seldom wet for long—just long enough to make the grass a little bit greener.  While most of the country struggles with being not too hot or not too cold during the summer months, the weather at summer camp in the Northeast Pennsylvania is just right!

Everything I Need to Know…

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Robert Fulghum wrote a great poem entitled “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”  Since so many campers and staff members often speak of all of the valuable things they learn at camp, we thought we’d do a tribute to Fulghum’s original poem, as well as to all present and former campers and staff members, with our own camp take on the classic…

Everything I Need to Know in Life…I didn’t learn in a classroom or in a book.  I learned it at summer camp.  I learned….

  • I can make good decisions for myself
  • Living with other people requires compromise.
  • Learning to say ‘I’m sorry”
  • Making my bed every day
  • Clean up my own mess
  • Don’t overpack!
  • Don’t take things that are not yours.
  • Write letters. People still love getting mail.
  • Trying new things is fun, even if they don’t turn out to be something you’d want to do everyday.
  • Sometimes being able to laugh at yourself is the best medicine.
  • Everyone should take the time to act silly —even grownups.
  • It’s okay not to be the best at something as long as you try really hard.
  • Just because you don’t succeed the first time, that doesn’t mean you should give up.
  • It’s not so hard to smile and say ‘hi’ to someone you don’t know.
  • New friends are great!  Old friends are the best!
  • Traditions tie us to others forever, no matter where we are in the world or how much time has passed.
  • You have the power to choose whether you have a good day or a bad day.  And even if your day doesn’t get off to such a great start, it doesn’t have to end that way.
  • No one wins all of the time.  It’s what you take away from the game that matters.
  • Having a routine is a really good way to stay organized.
  • Words CAN be just as powerful as sticks and stones, so think about what you say to someone else before you say it.
  • Judging people by what they look like or what they wear won’t get you very far in life, and you might miss out on some great friendships because of it.
  • Cheering for others is just as fun as being cheered on.
  • Every great thing comes to an end.  But the memories of it last a lifetime.

The world would be an awesome place if everyone went to summer camp!

Learning to Lose at Camp

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Whether it’s a school spelling bee or a soccer game, as parents we want to see our children win not just to experience the joy of seeing them excel but because we know that they want to win.  Being raised in a competitive culture naturally makes us all want to be number one.  Children equate being number one with being the best.  However, as grownups we know that it’s impossible to win all of the time and that winning doesn’t necessarily mean being the best so much as being the best on that particular day.  The idea that losing, in reality, is closer to not winning in that it’s possible to “lose” yet gain something valuable from a contest or competition is one of the most difficult concepts for children to embrace.  Camp is a place where not only is this point driven home daily, but it’s a lesson learned at camp in a fun, constructive environment.

The pressure of anxious parents and coaches on the sidelines of sports competitions combined with the knowledge that school performance affects everything from what kind of classes they can take, extracurricular activities in which they can participate, and what colleges they will be  attend place a great deal of emphasis on children’s performance.  The ability for children to be able to process that good can come from not winning is clouded because the end goal is the emphasis.  The underlying message that children sometimes inadvertently receive as a result is that they will be valued or loved less if they lose.  Camp, on the other hand, emphasizes process and embraces novice.  One of the primary messages conveyed to campers is that winning is a great thing at camp, but it’s not everything.   Improving skills, finding activities one really loves, having fun and making friends are valuable attributes at camp.  In such an environment, winning takes on less prominence.  Children are less likely to feel less valuable as campers for losing.

Camp leaders and staff work very hard throughout the summer to make sure this atmosphere is maintained. Children are encouraged for performance, accomplishment, and attitude regardless of being winners or losers in a contest.  Many special camp  games or competitions are also structured in a way that encourages children to work together in order to win and provide excellent opportunities for those children who may not be excellent athletes or extreme intellectuals to have their moments to shine.

Learning how to “not win” at camp makes it much easier for children to put “not winning” at home into proper perspective!

What Are the Bunks Like?

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

What are the living arrangements?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from prospective parents.  Of course, we’ve all seen enough Hollywood interpretations to imagine our children living in everything from tents with cots to luxury facilities complete with common rooms furnished with ping pong tables and fluffy sofas.  The reality at Camp Weequahic is somewhat simple, and  in this blog we’re going to try to answer some of the most common questions that we receive about camp living facilities.

What are the cabins/bunks like?
Most cabins or bunks house 8-12 campers plus a couple of counselors in a single room for sleeping and a separate bathroom and shower area.  Some cabins or bunks may have separate areas with cubbies for storing clothing and personal belongings. The beds may actually be traditional bunk beds (one stacked on top of the other) or they may be single beds lined next to each other and separate by cubby stands.

What’s the difference between a cabin and a bunk?
Essentially, nothing.  It’s simply a matter of each camp’s preference in whether to call its living facilities cabins or bunks.  This may or may not be related to the particular region in which a camp in located.  In some areas “cabin” may be the more common term while in others, camps are more likely to call them “bunks.”

Where do campers put their things?
Whether it’s next to the beds or in a separate area, camp cabins and bunks have cubby areas in which children can place their things.  Although there is ample cubby space for everything on the camp’s packing list, it’s important to keep in mind when packing that there isn’t a lot of extra storage in bunks or cabins.  So it’s a good idea to contact the camp before giving into temptation and tucking a lot of extra items in your camp trunk.

Are the toilet and shower facilities inside the bunk, and what are they like?
Although some summer camps do have community shower houses shared by several bunks, all of America’s Finest Summer Camps feature cabins and bunks with ensuite bathroom facilities inside that are shared only by those living in each individual cabin or bunk. They typically have a few sinks as well as toilet and hot water.

Additionally, many bunks feature porches or sitting areas outside and drying racks for beach towels, since waterfront activities are a prominent part of summer camp.  Those most cabins and bunks do not feature air conditioning, there are plenty of screened windows that allow air to pass through, which works well in mountainous locations where the air tends to be a few degrees cooler anyway.

So there you have it, what a bunk is like at Camp Weequahic.

Making Decisions at Camp

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

If your child regularly spends a half hour in the cereal aisle of the supermarket choosing his breakfast cereal or takes the better part of a day debating whether he wants to go to the movies or have a play date with a friend, there is a somewhat underrated and under appreciated aspect of sending your child to summer camp that you may want to consider.  Camp helps children learn how to make decisions.

For many campers, sleepaway camp is their first real experience away from their parents. They find themselves faced with decisions every day, some of which are traditionally made by their parents.  Camps, for instance, often offer campers several different dining options each meals.  Without their parents there to tell them to eat salad because they don’t like tuna or pasta, children find themselves faced with the decision about what to eat.  This sounds like a small thing, and in the scheme of larger things, perhaps it is.  However, it’s not an exercise without long-term benefit.  Once children understand the decision is theirs, they tend to get adventurous.  As a result, many will try—and be surprised to realize they like—foods that they might not have tried at home if steered toward safer choices by us parents who, let’s face it, sometimes choose the path of least resistance if for no other reason than to maintain peace.  The sense of adventure gained also carries over into their daily activities.

Most camps programs are designed around camper choice.  While the level of choice varies from camp to camp with some giving campers exclusive control of their daily schedules while others plan part of the day and allow campers to choose a couple or a few activities, campers are still faced everyday with choosing at least some of their daily activities.  Making such decisions forces campers to consider whether it’s better to stick to a tried and true activity that they love or try something new.  While some campers are inevitably more adventurous than others, the ability to make decisions without the pressure of peers or parents and in the open, accepting environment of camp at which being adventurous is not only accepted but encouraged, children learn to choose what they want rather than what they feel that others want for them.  Again, this may seem like a relatively small accomplishment in the larger scheme of growing up, but many books about success emphasize that the children who grow up to become the most successful adults learned early to understand what they wanted and how to make the choices in life that would help them achieve their goals.  Additionally, when children know what they want, they’re able to be more assertive in pursuing goals and voicing when they’re unhappy.

So if you’re tired of perusing the aisles for the second, third, and fourth time while your child tries to decide between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios or are frustrated about not being able to make evening plans because your child can’t decide what he wants to do, consider sending him to summer camp where he can get a crash course on learning to make decisions on a daily basis.

Campers with Zest

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

During our conversations with families, we often hear “My child loves to play sports but is not terribly competitive. How will they fit in at Camp Weequahic?” We also hear, “My kid ONLY wants to play team sports” or “My child does not like any team sports. Are they going to like camp?” They are great questions because they allow us to explain the type of camper who thrives at Weequahic.

In a word, children who get the most out of Weequahic are ‘zestful.’  (We used to use the term ‘engaged’ but, having read Paul Tough’s great book on children, we think ‘zestful’ is a much better descriptor!) This describes boys and girls who are into lots of different activities, excited to build friendships, and who love to play.

Most of our girls select a wide range of activities from fashion design and cooking to team sports to waterskiing. Similarly, our boys will choose a wide variety of activities – team sports, woodshop, rocketry, skate park, climbing, cartooning, tennis, and more.  (Just about everyone enjoys tubing and jumping in the lake!)

Some campers choose to focus on a specific area, such as gymnastics, the arts, adventure and nature, or competitive team sports. While we have a large offering of competitive sports and events within the Wayne County Camp Association, being on a team is completely voluntary and open to everyone interested.

We do allow some specialization, we want to make sure our campers try a few things they don’t get to experience much at home (maybe a hike or building something in woodshop or getting up on water skies for the first time).

We are excited to offer our campers the opportunity to build their perfect summer in a setting that encourages a zestful approach to life!

Who is Watching Your Children? A Look at Camp Staff and Leadership

Friday, February 1st, 2013

If you submit prospective babysitters through background and reference checks just for a date night with your spouse or significant other, then you probably have an extreme interest in just who will be taking care of your children at summer camp.  Thanks in part to movies and television, many parents have images of young, barely out of high school teenagers filling counselor roles.  However, the truth is that camps conduct searches for months to locate and fill leadership and key staff roles with mature, knowledgeable professionals, many of whom work with children in some capacity year round.

Even though camp is still six months away, chances are that your child’s summer camp (or prospective summer camp) has already kicked its recruiting season into high gear.  To find counselors, many camps traverse college campuses across the country searching for college students and recent grads who are pursuing careers in education, social work, youth athletics, or other fields related to working with children.  In order to avoid staff members that are too immature—or mature—the target demographic for counselors is typically between 20-25, although some camps will vary from this in certain scenarios or for special needs.  A successful camp counselor works 24/7 and must be mature enough to make split second decisions that concern the welfare and well -being of children.  Although counselor staffs tend to have relatively high turnover rates from year to year because college students complete college and move on to full time jobs that they cannot leave for an entire summer, leadership staff tends to return more regularly.

Camp leadership is often comprised of seasoned teachers and coaches who have been involved with summer camp in some capacity for several years or even decades.  Some of them grew up as campers and worked their way into leadership positions beginning as counselor assistants or counselors.  Others began as counselors and loved the experience so much that they have returned from year to year.  Still others are hired directly into their leadership roles after extensive searches by camps to find the best candidate for the role.  However their camp experience began, one thing that all camp leaders have in common is that they not only have extensive experience working with children, but thorough knowledge of the intricacies and behind the scenes goings on of summer camp.

Aside from leadership staff, other mature individuals are employed to staff health and dining facilities as well as offices.  In fact, parents are sometimes surprised to learn that so many mature, experienced professionals spend their summers at sleepaway camp.  But, for many, the experience, as it is for the children, is beyond compare.  Those who return each year will tell you that they wouldn’t consider spending their summers anyplace else.  They love what they do, they love their campers, and they love their camps!  How many traditional jobs can boast such high morale and collective years of experience?