Archive for December, 2015

Woodworking: it’s back in style!

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.50.36 PMHave you been keeping up on Parks & Rec lately? Yeah, so have we. (You have to do something when summer ends, right?)

Here at camp pretty much everything reminds us of camp activities, but apparently we’re not the only ones: and Nick Offermans’ goofy woodworking-obsessed character has gotten us particularly excited to dive into some traditional American crafting in the shop at Camp Weequahic!

“It’s difficult to name a favorite wood. They are all so noble, each with its own special characteristics.”

– Nick Offerman, Parks & Rec

Okay, maybe you don’t have to be as serious about woodworking as they are on Parks & Rec, but getting crafty in the shop is definitely a ton of fun.

Traditional skills are hip and practical

Woodworking is one of those traditional skills that is slowly being lost in much of the country. Trying it out at camp is as much about getting in touch with the history of craftsmanship as it is about learning practical skills that will serve you well next time you need to use a little elbow grease on a home-improvement project.

It’s like the school shop with extra imagination

The best part about woodworking at Camp Weequahic is that it isn’t “just any” woodworking class. If you think building a chair in the shop at school sounds boring, how about building a rustic necklace, or something you can use in your room — like a laptop tray? Campers have built some pretty crazy stuff in summers past, including:

  • Sundials
  • Wall hangings
  • Windmills
  • Creative sculptures
  • Rustic signs

…and the list goes on.

If you can imagine it, you can build it. Staff specialists work with you to help you learn the tools, and then your creativity gets to run wild making something cool along with the group… or going rogue and making something else entirely.

Woodworking projects are great gifts for family (hint, hint)

If you’re racking your brains trying to think of a good Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or Holiday gift, keep it in mind when you hit the shop next summer. Everyone loves homemade gifts, so a handmade gift from the camp woodworking shop is sure to fit the bill. It’s certainly less boring than socks!

Whatever you bring home from the camp woodworking shop, it’s guaranteed to surprise your folks. Camp isn’t just fun — it can also be practical.

We can’t wait to build more awesome stuff next summer! See you in the shop!

 

 

Camp crafts: keeping the arts alive

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 4.11.47 PMSummer camp isn’t just about campfires and sports and jumping in the lake: we’re happy to report that the arts are alive and well at Camp Weequahic!

From fine art to ceramics to theater, there are activities and specialty resources available for practically anything a creative spirit could dream of.

Art offers variety

Camp is a hands-on place, so it makes sense that the hands-on approach applies even outside the core activities like sports and archery. Not everybody wants to be on their feet all day, so painting, ceramics, and other studio arts give campers a chance to slow down, zone in, and get their hands dirty in a creative environment.

Not a huge fan of ultimate frisbee? How about ceramics then! Not a pottery buff? Maybe some theater will float your boat? Camp is full of creative outlets, and everybody gets a chance to try out as many different mediums as they want until they find the one that speaks to them.

Art builds real-world skills

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 4.11.27 PMOne of the best things about doing arts activities at camp is how they build on themselves from year to year, all while connecting with students’ activities and interests during the school year.

Campers who dream of going to art school can find plenty of time and resources for honing the skills they already have, while newcomers to a craft can start fresh and continue to grow the next summer if they desire.

At camp, the level a camper wants to reach within the arts is completely within their own control. The sky’s the limit!

Theater keeps everyone laughing

What’s a campfire without some good-natured inside jokes? Theater is a great way for campers to play and practice team organization outside the sports environment. The end product is usually a little on the goofy side (this is summer camp after all, not Shakespeare in the round), but what’s really valuable about the activity is applying those team building skills to something more like “real life” than a team sport.

You could say that the team that plays together, stays together.

Self-expression builds confidence

Ultimately, the goal of creative activities at camp is to build confidence through self-expression.

The arts have always been a safe place for campers to express the things they have on their minds. Making art in a community ensures that everybody gets plenty of attention, and skilled instructors are always on hand to pair campers with the tools appropriate to their skill level. No matter the discipline, every camper gets a chance to show their own unique creative spark.

Camp isn’t just a fun place — it’s a creative place too! So get creative in the arts. There’s no better time than summer to make something spectacular!

5 wakeboard tips and tricks to stay in practice all year round

Monday, December 14th, 2015

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.12.54 AMSummer camp means getting out on the lake, and getting out on the lake means: wakeboarding!

Wakeboarding is a favorite for many campers, providing tons of adrenaline and fun in a super safe environment. (After all, the worst that can happen is you fall in the lake… and campers are constantly doing that on purpose anyway!)

The only tricky part about wakeboarding is remembering everything you learned the year before. Like any seasonal activity, staying in practice year-round is pretty difficult. (Unless you live somewhere with warm winters and happen to have a boat and lake at your disposal, that is!)

So how can you practice at home so you’re in top form when it’s your turn to hit the lake?

We’ve gathered some of the best ways to stay on top of your wakeboarding game. Get ready to impress your camp friends when they see how many tricks you can do!

Note: as with any sport or fitness activity, always wear safety equipment, stay within your limits, and only practice with a qualified instructor to keep everything safe and fun.

1. Practice your board skills with snowboarding or skateboarding

The hardest part of wakeboarding can be simply balancing on the board. Luckily, snowboarding and skateboarding both build similar skills, so if you can get out on the slopes or make it down to the local skate park, you can practice your balance all year round!

The best part is that both sports are super fun in their own right — and they’ll make sure you have killer board handling skills by the time summer camp rolls around.

You can also consider using a balance board, which gives some of the same advantages as a skateboard without requiring you to leave your room or the gym. You could even watch Netflix while you practice!

2. Improve your balance by adding exercises to your routine

If you already have a stretching or workout routine that you follow at least once a week, consider adding some balance-focussed exercises to the mix! Exercises that improve your balance are surprisingly simple: practice balancing on one leg for 30+ seconds, then build up to hopping on one foot, and doing one-legged squats and lunges.

Pro tip: closing your eyes makes these exercises twice as hard, but will have huge rewards when you get on the board.

3. Study up on YouTube

When it comes to learning specific tricks, YouTube is your best friend. Instructors all over the world have videos you can watch for free that break down each trick into step-by-step challenges, and you can play them over and over until you’ve got a handle on the mechanics of the trick.

4. Trampoline time!

Yup, wakeboarding is your excuse to play around on the school trampoline!

A trampoline is surprisingly effective at simulating the wakeboarding experience, and gives you a chance to practice a tricky move over… and over… and over again, until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to give it a shot on the lake.

Plus, jumping on a trampoline is just plain fun!

5. Daydream

Success comes to those who expect it, and summer camp activities are no different. If you’re excited about another fun season of wakeboarding, go ahead and let yourself get stoked about it!

Visualize yourself doing the tricks you enjoy, and practice them mentally while doing less exciting activities (like sorting your clothes, for example). How did it feel to grind that steep wake? How did it feel to land that spin?

Summer is always right around the corner, and it’ll be time to get out on the lake again before you know it. Can’t wait to see you there — be ready for some serious watersport fun!

What I learned from playing sports at camp

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

11754301_10153473318116419_718260190002830276_oI wish you could have seen my face the first day of summer camp; my excitement was so contagious I was worried the nurse would put me in quarantine. That being said, my excitement had nothing to do with sports. So far as I was concerned, sports were just another stressful school activity, and to be honest I was initially disappointed when I first saw “basketball” on my daily schedule.

Fast forward a week later, and I was signing up for golf and baseball of my own free will, and even organizing pickup games during rest hour. While I’d dreaded sports at school, they quickly become one of my favorite activities at camp!

So what happened? Well, it might sound a little cheesy, but it didn’t take much camp spirit to change my attitude. Let me explain…

Camp is “different.” In a good way.

Although many of the team sports at camp are familiar from the team sports at school, the experience of participating in sports at camp can be a completely different experience. In a good way, of course.

For campers who thrive on organized sports at school, camp offers a unique opportunity: a chance to hone skills in a more focused environment, and access to incredible coaches who are completely invested in helping their campers have a blast and build their skills. “You mean I get to spend all day long outside playing games?” For sporty campers, the athletics program at camp is paradise.

For campers who might be less inclined towards sports at school, on the other hand, camp offers a different kind of advantage: a chance to try a wide variety of sports in a stress-free environment, without the pressures that come along with the high-stakes atmosphere of organized team competitions at school.

Learning to challenge yourself

I know I wasn’t the only convert; many other campers who would never describe themselves as sporty outside of camp found themselves discovering the more positive, pro-personal-growth side of athletics during their time at camp. If the school environment sucks the fun out of volleyball for you, just try it at camp! It’s a totally different game. Trust me.

When competitive sports let me down at school, I thought it was everyone else’s fault. But getting a chance to chill out and try new things at camp taught me that actually, it wasn’t anybody’s fault; I just needed to relax and learn to be okay with winning some days and losing on others. You know, just like life.

Camp is a great environment to try new things

Regardless of a camper’s feelings towards sports at school, the number one difference that camp has to offer is this: variety.

At camp, it’s not a question of fitting a sport or two around academics; it’s a question of fitting as many sports as you can imagine into a single day! Roller hockey, golf, flag football, lacrosse, cheerleading, baseball, tennis, soccer… and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

The chances for finding a sport that suits you are endless, and if you don’t care for a particular game you aren’t stuck with it; after all, a new one will be starting up next period.

Keep an open mind

So here’s my advice to a new camper who might be anxious about team activities at camp: relax, give it a try, and keep an open mind. The best part of camp is that the scenery is always changing. Even if you decide that an activity isn’t up your alley, you can always sign up for something new next time.

…And once you do discover your favorite sport, it’s just a question of signing up as much as possible!

How to make a friendship bracelet! (Trust us, you’ll be needing a few!)

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Friendship bracelets and summer camp go together like… well, summer camp and friendship bracelets!

Saying goodbye is always bittersweet. Colorful handmade bracelets and anklets keep the campfire vibes alive through the winter months — the more sun-faded, the better.

So far as supplies go you only need three things to get started:

  1. colorful embroidery floss
  2. beads (optional: for flair)
  3. imagination

There are dozens of different styles when it comes to friendship bracelets. Here are a few of the tried-and-true classics that every summer camper should learn!

The Classic Braid

The classic braid is the go-to standard of friendship bracelets. If you can braid hair, you already basically know how to make one. If you don’t… well, read on!

Start by cutting three pieces of embroidery floss. How long? Well, measure around your wrist, and add an inch or two for beginning and closing knots. Consider using more than one color to give the bracelet some personality!

Tie the three pieces together at one end and begin braiding the floss. You can pin the end down with a clothespin if that helps keep you steady. As for how to braid, just follow the steps in the image below and repeat until you reach the end of the floss:

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.56.33 AM

Once you reach the bottom, just tie the loose ends with any knot that strikes your fancy.

Now the only task left is finding a friend and helping each other tie them around your wrists! See you next year — pinkie promise.

The Fishtail

The Fishtail is similar to the Classic Braid, but with a few twists that make it a little trickier to pull off. The final result is a little chunkier than the Classic Braid, adding some variety to your styles if you happen to be wearing more than a few. (If you’re a lifelong camper, we’re sure you are.)

But don’t worry; if you can tie a fishtail braid in your hair, tying a Fishtail bracelet should be no problem!

To begin, select about a dozen different colors of embroidery floss and cut them to length, just as with the Braid above. Tie them all together at one end, and braid following his pattern until you get to the end:

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.56.40 AM

Tie the end and slip in a few beads if you’re feeling inspired — case closed!

Knotted Bracelet

If you can master the Classic Braid and Fishtail, get ready for your final challenge: the Knotted Bracelet! It’s a little trickier than the others, so be sure to pay close attention; especially for the beginning and end, when you’re measuring out the “clasp” part of the bracelet.

Detailed instructions are available over at The Red Kitchen.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.56.46 AM

Friendship never ends

The only trouble with friendship bracelets is finding enough wrist and ankle space to wear them all! Just be sure to save a little room for next summer… and the one after that.

Adding a little personalized spark to all three bracelet styles is easy: just mix in beads, or maybe even pieces of camp life like acorn caps and seeds.

We’re excited to see what you can dream up.