Archive for April, 2013

The Value of Summer Camp to Teenage Campers

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

From the rituals they lead to open camp on the first night until the moment they say teary farewells to their final summers, summer camp plays as significant a role in older campers’ lives as they play in carrying on its traditions.  There are a lot of camp articles that sing the praises of summer camp for young children, but few focus on the value of the camp experience for young teens.  By the time many campers reach their teens, they already have several camp summers behind them.  For them, it’s not really about newness anymore, but reliability and tradition: who is at camp, what is at camp, camp rites to which they’ve looked forward since they were young.  In a period of child’s life that can be a roller coaster full of ups and downs that come at full speed, summer camp is oasis of stability.  It’s solid ground, a safe place where teenagers go to be themselves and to let loose of the stress and strain that are inextricably part of the teenage years.

At summer camp, teenagers can still be young while getting a taste of what it means to be grown up.  They connect with a small group of people with whom they’ve shared experiences since they were very young and with whom they continue to share experiences.  They not only share experiences, they share memories that only a select group of others shares.  Both give older campers a distinct sense of belonging.  Regardless of who or what they are to their school peers the other ten months of the year, camp is a circle of inclusion that often extends far beyond the camp years.  Older campers also benefit from privileges that come from being older.  They’re tapped to lead camp activities, given leadership roles on teams of younger campers, and charged with being examples in honoring camp traditions.  In short, older campers “train” younger campers how to be good campers.  For many of them, being a role model and a mentor is one of the best aspects of camp.  The pride in having played a role in a younger camper’s life is what brings many former campers back to camp in their adult years to work as counselors.

Beyond rituals and traditions, there is also the encouragement that many older campers get from staff members in pursuing college and career goals, be it allowing them to sample career life through Apprentice type tasks, giving them the opportunity to write an essay for the camp blog,  giving them a camera and letting them take photos for the camp website, helping them write a college essay or work through a summer reading assignment, or just talking to them about what life as a teacher or a coach is like.  By the time campers reach their teenage years, they’ve learned to appreciate what staff members bring to the table and are eager to learn and listen.  Ask any former camper to name a camp staff member who had a special impact on their lives, and within seconds they’ll share the story of a beloved counselor or staff member who taught them something about life that they still practice today.

Although many bonds form when campers are young, some of the most special form when they’re older.  Sometimes something as simple as a team building exercise helps teenage campers realize that they have more in common with a fellow camper than they thought they did.  At an age when it’s all too easy to feel isolated, being able everyday to realize life as a valuable part of a whole translates into some of the most special memories of a camp career.

Camp is more than just a summer away from home hanging with friends.  It’s a learning experience, and some of the most valuable lessons are learned in the midst of teenage fun at summer camp.

20 Really Awesome Things You Can Do in One Summer at Camp Weequahic That You (Probably ) Can’t Do in One Summer at Home

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

1.) Jump on a Water Trampoline

2.) Ride a Zipline

3.) Paint Your Face a Different Color

4.) Make Something Cool in Arts & Crafts

5.) Take Part in an Apache Relay

6.) Learn a Balance Beam Routine

7.) Host a Radio Show

8.) Climb One of These

9.) Perform a Musical Number

10.) Perform in a Musical

11.) Have a Sleepover with Your Friends Every Night

11.) Sing Songs and Eat S'Mores around a Campfire

13.) Try a New Sport

14.) Go Fishing...

15.) And Horseback Riding...

16.) ...And Skateboarding in a Skatepark

17.) Learn to Waterski

18.) Climb a Wall

19.) Build a Rocket

20.) Build a Robot

Four Great Reasons to Send your Child to Camp in Wayne County, PA

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

1) It’s close!  We are located within a three hour drive of Philadelphia, New York, and only slightly longer from Boston, Baltimore and the Washington D.C. area. Sending our children “away” to camp is one of the true blessings we can bestow upon our children, but let’s be honest its tough on us parents. Choosing Wayne County gives every parent the additional reassurance that we can get in our car and be at camp in a short period of time.

2)Diversity. The camps of Wayne County draw campers from all over the United States and abroad. Many camps attract children from Philadelphia to Paris and from Los Angeles to Long Island. This diversity of campers allows children to come to camp and express their interests and meet kids with similar traits from all over the United States and world. This does not even mention the staff. Camps in Wayne County hire staff from all over the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and Africa. Basically your children will be exposed to staff from everywhere other than Antarctica during their summer at camp.

3) The Programs! If you choose to send your child to camp in Wayne County, there is certainly a program that is best for them. From the child who is looking for an individual program tailored to his or her self while still getting the “typical” summer camp experience to the very traditional program with structured bunk scheduling and individual choice hybrid. There is also a unique sports league within the camps of Wayne County that allow children that so desire to participate in teams that travel to other camps in a competitive model.

4)Create Lasting Memories! So many of our campers because of their diverse backgrounds leave camp with “friends for life”. We often hear campers say they “live 10 months for 2”. This is the true mission of every camp I think. To leave our kids free to develop and create relationships that are the type that will “last a lifetime”

The Efficacy of Downtime at Summer Camp

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

A joke telling session in the bunk during a rainy morning, lying in the bunk during rest hour, or sitting by the waterfront and talking with friends as the sun goes down are what we call downtime at summer camp.  Children need downtime to process learning experiences and recharge their creative juices, notes parenting expert Michael Grose.  He believes downtime is an important life skill that every child should learn to enjoy and appreciate.  Yes, sleepaway camps like to keep campers busy.  After all, that’s what they come for.  But camps also place emphasis on the value of the summer camp experience as a way to get out of the routine of everyday life, which is what makes summer camp the perfect place for children to learn downtime.

At home, it’s easy to get lost in the constant “go” routine to which so many children are accustomed.  Many of them go straight from school to sports rehearsals or music lessons, sometimes both or several in one night.  Then there is the inevitable stack of homework waiting when they finally get a few moments in the evening.  They also see their parents constantly on the move.  In such an environment, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that one should always be operating at full speed.  At camp, however, the environment is decidedly one that is about slowing down and appreciating individual moments and accomplishments.

Camp is also contained.  Campers have only a few weeks each summer to maximize their camp experience.  They can’t look too far ahead without looking beyond camp, which no camper wants to do.  That’s why campers like to take advantage of that brief rain shower, an hour of rest in the afternoon, or a few moments after dinner to enjoy the camp environment and bond with friends.

Says Grose, “Free, child-initiated play is the ultimate in relaxation. Fun games, games with few rules and games that kids control help them to unwind.”  And learning to unwind is what camp is all about.

Summer Camp: Otherwise Known as Mission Combat Boredom

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Memorial Day is just around the corner and, soon after that, schools will be letting out for the summer.  If you and your significant other are already taking bets on how many days into summer vacation your child will get before proclaiming ‘I’m bored!’ don’t fret.   It may not be too late to combat summer vacation boredom with camp.

First, run–don’t walk–to your computer and submit that summer camp application that you’ve been meaning to submit since October. Although many camps are at capacity for this summer, some camps still have limited space or can place your child on a waiting list in the event of a last minute cancellation.  But time is definitely of the essence now so don’t dilly dally anymore!  If you’re still on the fence and wondering what summer camp do to fight off summer boredom that you, the local pool, or the latest videogame system can’t do, consider this:

For starters, does your local pool have a water trampoline or a rockit? How about a climbing wall or a rope swing? Does it offer tubing or paddleboarding?  And can your child choose between a sailboat, canoe, or kayak?  Does the park offer waterskiing?  Didn’t think so.

But it’s not just the waterfront that makes summer camp “camp.”  That’s a couple of hours of each day, of course, but there are ball fields and courts, too—baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, football, hockey…All in one campus!  On any given day at summer camp, campers visit several of them.  They don’t just play intramural games either.  They receive instruction from knowledgeable professionals who work with children year round either as coaches or teachers or college students with significant playing experience a sport who hope to work with children when they graduate.  Campers are challenged to improve their foul shot, learn a new swing, and maintain more control of balls while dribbling.  Traditional summer camps are a virtual sports paradise.  You’ll probably read about that when you receive your first letter from camp in which your child tells you that he or she is so NOT bored!

Away from the fields, there are some pretty sweet crafts, ceramics, and woodworking projects for campers who have a passion for all things that have a high potential to be messy.  They’ll spend an hour or two everyday making a collection of new masterpieces to bring home to you and, when they do, you WILL find a special place to show it off, even if you’re not immediately sure what it is.   It’s a pretty good bet that your child will spend at least two minutes of a phone call home telling you how much FUN it is to nail pieces of wood together or spin clay on a pottery wheel.

But even sports and crafts aren’t enough to fill up a day at camp.  There are climbing walls, ropes courses, zip lines, mountain bikes, fitness, weights, cooking, nature, fishing, gymnastics, dance, theater, magic, equestrian, skate parks…and that’s just what campers do during the day.

Without electronics, iPods, and videogames to retreat to after dinner, evenings can get kind of crazy.  There are sing alongs, dance competitions, spirit competitions, talent competitions, and stage shows.  If you’re having a hard time imagining your child taking the stage and liking it, don’t worry.  We take photos.  You can spend the entire summer hitting the refresh button on your computer screen while looking at photos of your child not being bored.

There is also square dancing, sports leagues, scavenger hunts, carnivals, cookouts, dances, outside entertainment, and campfires.  We haven’t even mentioned out of camp trips to take in sporting events, catch a movie, or visit a local amusement park.

If you’re out of breath just reading this, so are we.  And we haven’t even mentioned everything.  In fact, there is so much to do at camp that on some days the hardest decision for many campers is what not to do.  So make this summer the first of your child’s ‘funnest summers ever!’ by sending him or her to camp, where there is no such thing as “bored.”