As the digital age in which we live seems to be accelerating, it’s easy to dismiss traditions that are not technology focused, such as summer camp. There is an argument to be made, however, for why summer camp is more important than ever for that very reason. There is a lot to be said for effort. While technology has done much to simplify our lives and make life more efficient than ever, it requires less and less effort from users. Increasingly, people are shying away from tasks that can’t be accomplished within a few keystrokes. Effort, however, not only requires certain qualities, it facilitates them as well. Effort requires energy. Energy, by definition, is the mental or physical strength that allows individuals to accomplish goals. Without physical or mental strength, energy cannot be generated. Without energy, there cannot be effort. Without effort, goals cannot be achieved. There are several very strong keywords to success linked together in those few sentences: effort, energy, strength, goals, accomplishment. At the very least, there is an implied relationship in the linking of these words. In such a sense, using technology to “accomplish” goals is merely a façade. In essence, users are not “accomplishing” anything. They’re merely led through a series of tasks to something that has already been completed for them in order to make their lives easier.
In “unplugging,” summer camp essentially provides campers with the opportunity to control the outcome of their summer byrequiring legitimate effort to accomplish goals. Perfecting a tennis serve cannot be done with a few clicks of a mouse. Pressing the “Return” key won’t finish a ceramics project. Communicating with friends is more than logging into an Instagram account. Campers must engage in their camp environment.
When given a challenge at summer camp, they can’t simply skip to the head of the class by typing a search into Google. They must apply their knowledge to come up with a solution. When solving a problem involves more than one camper, they must communicate in order to ultimately come to a consensus about which solution is the best and why. In short, they must apply themselves. Application of oneself not only requires, effort, energy, and strength, it generates them. Campers see firsthand the rewards of hard work. They not only learn how to legitimately achieve goals but to set them as well. They gain a better understanding of the reality of achievement. It requires work, a sharp mind, and the ability to communicate—lifelong skills that form the foundation for success.
Beyond the mental agility that children gain from summer camp, there is the literal aspect of activity. Children move around at camp…all day. It’s very easy in a technology laden world, where so many aspects of daily life have become virtual, to be complacent. The human body naturally preserves energy whenever possible. Summer camp showcases the payoff of physical effort on a daily basis by producing tangible results of campers’ efforts through sports instruction and competition as well as hobby programs. Camper self-confidence grows as the products of effort are realized.
Summer camp is not merely a break from technology for campers. It’s a reminder that life is best realized outside of technology.
School is FINALLY over! The weather is warm. It’s summer. But as a camper, you know that it’s never REALLY summer until you get to camp, and in just one more week, you’ll be there. The closer arrival day gets, the more you replay what you know is about to happen in your head. There are little signs every year that mark that day to which you’ve been counting down for several LOOOONNNNGGG months. But it’s most definitely summer when you know this is about to happen…
Your parents will take you to a meeting place for a bus or plane ride to camp, or maybe they’re driving you to camp themselves. The trip to camp will seem 10X longer than it actually is because you just want to get there.
Your mom will most definitely cry when she says goodbye and assures you she’ll see you on Visiting Day. You’re so excited you can hardly stand it, but maybe you’ll cry a little too just so that she doesn’t feel bad.
As soon as you pull into camp, you’ll start looking for your camp friends. Maybe they’ll spot you first. No matter who finds whom, you’ll run and hug. After hugs all around with your friends, you’ll also hug your favorite returning counselors and staff members.
You’ll meet your bunk mates (if you don’t already know them) and your new counselors, who are every bit as excited as you that you’re finally at camp!
You’ll go into your new cabin with your friends and realize that you really ARE at camp. Another summer has begun! Bring on the FUN!
You’ll spend the rest of the day cheering, singing and laughing with your friends. This is just day 1, and the entire summer is ahead of you. But it’s definitely summer because all of this happened, just as you knew it would.
Do you know what makes Camp Weequahic so special besides our campers? Our staff. Camp Weequahic takes great pride in the amazing staff we assemble each summer and the enthusiasm that they bring to camp. Orientation for the Summer 2014 staff begins tomorrow, and we can are confident that this is one of the most awesome groups of people we have ever assembled. Campers, it’s going to be an incredible summer!
To insure that our staff is one of the best, we have them arrive early at camp so that we can spend some time teaching them everything they need to know about Camp Weequahic and you (our campers) prior to your arrival to insure that they’re ready to help you have the best summer ever from the moment you step onto campus.
We, at Camp Weequahic, believe that every summer should be even better than the last, and our staff orientation is a critical part of that philosophy. Amongst the staff of 2014 will be faces that we know you are counting down the days to see as well as some new ones who we know you’re going love. Our 2014 staff members have expressed many times over how excited they are about spending the summer at Camp Weequahic working with our campers. The only thing missing is you! We’ll ALL be ready and waiting for your arrival in just 9 more days.
A chuckle-worthy camp confession recently spotted on Pinterest: “My wrists did not see sunlight all summer because of the bracelets.” Anyone who has ever attended or worked at a sleepaway camp is all too familiar with the “bracelet tan.” Of the thousands of camps across America, there is not an Arts & Crafts area that is not well stocked with beads, lanyard, skeins of embroidery floss, paracord, rubber bands and just about anything else that can be turned into a bracelet. Bracelets are BIG at camp. They’re not merely wearable art. They’re a symbol of friendship. Few campers or staff actually keep the bracelets they make for themselves. Instead they exchange them with friends and other special people at camp. Although people have been making friendship bracelets since ancient times, they have become a camp tradition. It’s fun to conjure memories of a special person with a glance at one’s wrist.
The act of making the bracelets is almost as pleasurable as the bracelets themselves. Friendship bracelets are also easy to make, and campers of all ages easily catch onto the various ways of braiding and weaving materials into fashionable designs. Friendship bracelets also appeal equally to both boys and girls. The fact that making bracelets takes very little concentration makes them the perfect social craft. It’s easy to interact with others while making bracelets at camp. Bracelet making is the perfect conversation opportunity and bonding activity.
The row of bracelets is not just camp fashion, it’s a storyboard of the summer that is unique to every individual at camp. It represents who they met during the summer and the special moments that have been committed to memory. One the best things about friendship bracelets is finding them tucked away long after the summer has ended, and having a moment to remember the summer and the people and stories behind each bracelet.
Over the next several weeks, campers will arrive at summer camps all over the country knowing that although each summer brings new surprises, it also brings the familiarity of a second family and home. For campers, camp is a touchstone of people, activities and events on which they can depend each summer.
For those who have never experienced summer camp, it’s difficult to imagine forming such tight bonds with others in the span of a month or two. Those who have attended or worked at a summer camp understand cmaps are more than a place where campers go to have fun and enjoy the outdoors each summer. They’re a place where friendships and networks are formed that last long beyond the teary goodbyes and hugs that mark the end of each summer.
Although almost ten months pass between summers, with camp family, it inevitably feels like everyone was together just minutes ago. Hugs are plentiful when camp campers reunite with their camp family and conversation comes easily. There’s also an easiness about the pastoral settings of summer camps that facilitates a relaxed atmosphere. Tradition is an easy place marker that helps everyone slip back into the summer routine. And the thrill of the endless combination of opportunities to embark on new adventures is balanced with the everyday act of sitting down to meals with camp “siblings” or coming back to the bunk or cabin at night to share the details of the day.
Summer camp is a naturally inclusive atmosphere, which is perhaps what makes it unique from other social settings and allows for tight familial bonds to form in such a short period of time. There’s also something to be said for the overnight aspect of sleepaway camps. At sleepaway camp, campers are together around the clock as opposed to a school or day camp setting in which the majority of campers return to their homes at the conclusion of the day.
There is an intimacy about sharing living quarters that makes people more open and even accepting of each other. Sleepaway camp friendships, like family relationships, are built upon the knowledge that everyone must co-exist. Campers tend to maintain acquiescent opinions of one another, and disagreements are typically brief. Personality quirks are not only socially acceptable at camp but often an attraction. There is a saying that summer camp is the only place where ‘you’re so weird’ is a compliment.
Family is comprised of people who accept each other for who they are, in spite of any and all flaws, and encourage each other to be themselves. For campers, their camp “family” is no different, which is what makes them so eager to return to their summer homes each summer.
Our pre-camp crew has been hard at work and the Camp Weequahic campus looks amazing! It’s not quite perfect, though, because you—our campers—aren’t here yet. Every day as we walk the campus, we think to ourselves that the only thing missing is our campers. As picturesque as our campus is, it’s our campers that make Camp Weequahic “Camp Weequahic.” Opening Day of the Tribal Session is only 18 days from now, however, and we absolutely can’t wait to hear the buses driving up the road. You’ll meet the awesome staff that we’ve assembled for the summer. You’ll walk into your Summer 2014 bunk for the first time. Then, together we’ll raise the flag for the first time for the summer of 2014. We’ll gather in the Dining Room for our first meal as a camp. And, for the next six weeks, we’ll swim, climb, sail, ski, tube, kick, bat, pitch, volley, skate, make, build, cook, sing, dance, flip, cheer, create, make new friends, putt, enjoy new adventures with old ones, and just about anything else we can think up or imagine.
Campers: June is finally here and you’re about to head off to camp for the summer. Whether this is your first summer or your seventh, it’s completely normal to be a whole lot excited and even a little bit nervous. This just HAS to be the best summer EVER…as in epic! But do you ever find yourself a little bit confused about how to make that happen? Here are a few ideas to help you out as you get ready for camp.
Make new friends
Of course your old friends are amazing. That’s why they’re your friends. But new friends are pretty great too. Make it a point to say ‘hello’ to people and introduce yourself to those you don’t know. Talk to other campers to find out what you have in common besides camp. Show support for other campers at activities.
Get involved in camp activities
There are so many awesome things to do at camp. Take advantage of the opportunity to get involved in them. Don’t just rely on favorites for your summer fun. Try some new things too. You’ll find that if you go to each activity—even those you don’t love—with a positive attitude and get involved, camp is even more fun.
Show your camp spirit
Camps rely on their campers to create a fun, energetic environment by showing their camp spirit. There’s a reason you count down the months and days each year until it’s time for camp and why YOUR camp is the BEST camp. Don’t be shy about showing it at camp.
Be your best self
Camp is the most fun for everyone when campers are positive, energetic, open and inclusive. There’s no need to make it like school where only certain types of people hang around together. If someone in your bunk or at your activity is shy, go out of your way to include them and take a leadership role in introducing them to others. If your friends try to say negative things about other people, change the subject or reply with a positive. Encourage others at activities, particularly those who struggle or who fear being made fun of. The more fun that everyone has together, the better camp is!
Keep an open mind
Sometimes, things at summer camp don’t go quite how you expected. Think before you react. Don’t let one bad activity, conversation or even day ruin your whole summer. Remember, it’s just one thing out of thousands that happen over the summer. Rather than dwelling on that one thing, shake it off and move on. If you do, you probably won’t even remember it by the end of the summer.
In just a few weeks, buses will arrive with Camp Weequahic campers and the summer of 2014 will begin. While thinking about how close we are to another camp season, we started wondering about summer camp in general. How many are there? How many campers attend summer camp each year? The more we wondered, the more we asked. In the end, we collected a pretty respectable list of summer camp trivia that we bet you don’t know (We didn’t!)…
1.) The oldest summer camps in America are the brother/sister camps of Camp Dudley for boys in the Adirondacks of New York and Camp Kiniya for girls in Lake Champlain, Vermont. Both were founded in 1885 and are part of the YMCA camp system.
2.) It is believed that Camp Pemigewassett in New Hampshire holds the title for the summer camp contiguously owned and operated by the same family—or, in this case, families. The camp was founded in 1908 by the Favers and Reeds families, who both still own and operate the camp.
3.) The 1961 movie The Parent Trap, a
movie in which a set of twin sisters separated as babies meet at summer camp and swap places, was filmed at Bluff Lake Camp. The 1998 remake starring Lindsay Lohan was filmed at Camp Seely. Both camps are in California.
4.) According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 12,000 summer camps in the United States. More than half (about 7,000) are sleepaway camps.
5.) Eleven million people (adults too!) attend summer camp each year. Those eleven million people are in some good company. Just a very small fraction of famous people who also attended summer camp: Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks and featured entrepreneur/investor on Shark Tank), Michael Eisner (former CEO of Disney), Ralph Lauren, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Chelsea Clinton, Clay Aiken, Adam Levine, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jonah Hill, Zoey Deschanel, Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, Emma Roberts, and Seth Rogan…Oh, and Michelle Obama worked at a summer camp.
6.) More than 1.5 million people can boast that they work at a camp each year.
7.) The top five camp activities (according to the American Camp Association): Swimming, Arts & Crafts, Ropes, Archery, and miscellaneous water related activities.
8.) Wayne County, Pennsylvania, where Camp Weequahic is located, is home to 30 Wayne County Camp Association member camps. Collectively, they are attended by approximately 25,000 campers each summer.
9.) Although “bug juice” is a popular camp term that refers to the flavored drink served by a lot of camps at
mealtimes, like many camp terms and traditions, it has military origins. American soldiers were provided with fruit flavored powdered drink mix that they combined with water. The sugary drink attracted insects. So soldiers dubbed it “bug juice.”
10.) Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp), a famous comical song about summer camp, is based on actual letters that Allan Sherman, one of the writers of the song, received from his son during the years that he attended Camp Champlain in Westport, New York.