Archive for November, 2013

10 Camp Things for Which We’re Thankful All Year Long

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The holidays are upon us and ‘tis the season to ponder those things for which we’re truly thankful. For those of us who are fortunate enough to eat, sleep and breathe camp 24/7, 365 days a year, it’s hard not to make an exclusive “Camp Weequahic” list. After all, camp is just as much a part of our lives in November as it is in June. So we figured we’d share some camp things for which we are thankful all year long.

1.)    Our campers. Each and every one of our campers brings something unique to camp that makes our camp family complete. Getting emails and phone calls about our campers’ accomplishments throughout the winter makes the memories we have of the summer that much more special, and makes us even more excited to see everyone the following year.

2.)    Our camp parents. We feel pretty lucky to have so many parents who as enthusiastic about camp as their children and who keep in touch throughout the winter, providing us with fun and interesting updates.

3.)    Our staff. Finding a staff of talented people who are willing to leave their first homes and make summer camp theirsecond home for several weeks each summer in order to literally live their jobs day and night is no easy feat. That we’re able to put together a staff each summer who is so vested in creating an amazing summer for all of our campers is truly a blessing.

4.)    Alumni. It’s always a special treat when our alumni share their favorite camp memories and reiterate how great their camp years were. The fact that so many of our alumni are still in touch and/or are active within our community says a lot to us about just how special camp is and motivates us to continue to strive to make camp a lifetime worth of memories.

5.)    A beautiful campus. That first drive into camp each summer is always so special. No matter how many times we’ve been there, that first glance of the bunks, the dining hall, the fields, the courts and the waterfront each summer is something we anticipate all year long.

6.)    Memories. Memories are what makes each summer different than the last. Even in the fall, we find ourselves asking each other, “Remember when…?” and laughing over our favorite camp moments throughout the year.

7.)    Camp Songs. We often find ourselves turning up the volume whenever a song that proved popular the summer before plays on the radio or humming the alma mater or a favorite dining room tune while we’re busy planning for next summer.

8.)    Camp friends. It’s so nice to have someone with whom we can remember those special moments from previous summers and with whom we can have a hearty laugh about those inside moments that only our camp friends can understand. It’s also nice to be able to re-experience camp through meetups through the winter and makes us even that much more excited about next summer.

9.)    The camp tradition. It sounds pretty obvious, but just the fact that we’re able to carry on such a beloved tradition is a privilege. Summer camps have been around for more than a hundred years and such an iconic part of our culture that movies and television shows have been made about summer camp and books have been written about it. Not to mention, without summer camp, we’re not quite sure what we’d be doing. We certainly can’t imagine doing anything else.

10.) The promise of next summer. We’ve said it a million times, but we start anticipating the next summer as soon as the buses pull away. That ten month wait each year seems like forever, but it proves to be just enough time to plan another summer that promises to be even better than the last. The anticipation drives us all year long as we plan and makes us thankful to be part of camp all year.

Building Character at Camp Weequahic

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

One of the great leaders of our time once said, “The main ingredient in good leadership is good character. This is because leadership involves conduct and conduct is determined by values.” I’m sure Gen. Schwartzkopf did not have camp in mind when he said this. However, camp plays an active role in establishing enduring values children use as they grow, learn, and lead.

Camp Weequahic promotes three main values to each community member: Gratitude, Attitude, and Courage. We believe a gracious heart is a happy one. We believe that attitude is the only thing a person has complete control of in their life. And, we believe that confronting the fear one feels and doing the right thing anyway builds courage.

While we talk about these values at our weekly campfire, there is not a lot of overt GAC ‘speak’ each day. Rather, we take Oscar Wilde’s comment to heart: “Every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.”

Those ‘every little’ actions involve the campers who play, laugh, and learn at Camp Weequahic and, just as importantly, the staff who care for, teach, and guide them.

At Weequahic, we are mindful about the families who join our community. Surrounding our campers with other children interested in being at camp for the right reasons (grateful for the experience, excited to meet new friends, and open to building a great community) is enormously important.

Even more, it is critical for us to identify and hire staff members who already leading their lives in a GAC way. Why? While our nine day orientation is very effective in preparing our staff for campers, it cannot change their nature.

Our staff members’ character is nearly formed by the time they reach us. Therefore, we spend a great deal of time determining their values and learning about their daily conduct with and away from young people through the interview process. Once we have identified staff members who fit our culture, we then train and support them in the daily adventure of building children of strong character through playful mentorship.

Researchers have identified that a large portion of our young people do not place any value on ‘Values.’ Rather, they simply do what they have to in order to get what they want. At Camp Weequahic, we are proud to take an active role in combating this problem in our youth by teaching, in very fun little and daily ways, the GAC values.

Sleepaway Camp: The Ultimate English Language Experience

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

There is a multi-cultural aspect to summer camp that is a great benefit to campers who attend summer camps in America. While standardized test scores dictate students’ admission into certain high schools, learning programs, and universities, summer camp is an esteemed diversion. That a student ventured to America and invested in an American tradition so revered as summer camp provides international campers an opportunity to advance English skills and immerse in American culture that is almost un-rivaled. The big picture in those countries in which learning is the gold ticket is to take in “all things English.” To experience summer camp is to give a student an advantage beyond any of his or her classmates. Four hours per week in school could never equate to those of several weeks spent at a summer camp experiencing traditions that are quintessentially American while forming friendships that last a lifetime. English is a language that is as much about experience as linguistics. It’s a complicated mix of culture with as many exceptions to rules as there are rules. The best way to understand English is quite literally to experience it. At camp, children can make friends, participate in activities and become a part of traditions that are more than camp: They live English. For those children seeking to become truly fluent in English and gain an advantage over their fellow students, summer camp is an essential investment.

Music at Camp Weequahic

Friday, November 15th, 2013

One of the great benefits of camp is learning new things. From building a rocket to getting up on water skis, the camp activities our campers explore open new worlds to enjoy. One of our more recent additions has been hugely popular – music!

At Camp Weequahic, children get to choose their activities and build the summer of their dreams. Often, when they arrive, their choices reflect their past experience and they start with activities they know a lot about. Most campers don’t know anything about playing a guitar or wailing on the drums, though both look like fun. With a little positive encouragement, we find more and more campers jumping in and learning to play.

A favorite story from last summer: Matthew, a rising 5th grader from Florida, is a great little athlete who had never picked up a guitar. During a rainy afternoon, he and his bunkmates got introductions to some of our indoor activities – rocketry, radio, robotics and music.

After learning three chords, he was hooked! Matthew changed his activities around so that he could get in more guitar and left after three weeks of camp knowing how to play 3 songs and with lots of love for a new, lifelong skill.  This is the type of experience we want all of our campers to enjoy!

It’s not just guitar that we teach at Camp Weequahic. Parents love the fact that we have and teach drums at camp. Not many families enjoy the ‘learning process’ with drums in their own house, so we make it easy and keep them at camp. Our campers get to pound away and parents need hear none of it!

Not to be outdone, the keyboards and pianos also come into play at Weequahic. Many children who play at home spend time on the ivories while spending a great summer at camp in order to keep their skills sharp. In fact, campers will sometimes even use the piano to help with an evening activity like the Talent Shows or play in our Tribal or Olympic Games.

Want to rock and roll at summer camp? Come to Weequahic. We have all the instruments covered and can’t wait to introduce you to them!