Archive for January, 2016

Growing up is fun: transitioning from summer camper to summer camp counselor

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.10.04 PMMost people will tell you that growing up means having less time to play. Summer vacations for kids? Nothing but fun! Summer vacations for grown ups? “Booooring!”

…Well, here’s a secret: summer doesn’t have to be totally boring when you get too old for summer camp. All you have to do is become a camp counselor — problem solved! (Not to mention your Mom will be happy, since you’re “technically” getting a job!”

If you love camp and you’re worried about getting too old to go, don’t worry. Taking on the responsibility of a summer camp counselor is both rewarding and super fun!

Building experience

Transitioning from summer camper to summer camp counselor is probably easier than you think.

Building dependability and good leadership skills are already a huge part of the activities and games that campers participate in every year. For former summer campers, all the leadership skills that make a good counselor are already there — it’s just a question of stepping up to the plate and trying on a different hat this summer!

Leadership is “hard-wired” into the activities at Camp Weequahic; oftentimes, campers don’t even realize they’re building leadership skills. Camping, team sports, and problem-solving games all feels like “fun in the sun.” programs are usually adventure based and allow you to explore your budding leadership style through hands-on activities.

If you’ve ever wondered why the ropes course and team sports get just a little more challenging every year at camp, that’s why. Just like life, camp gets a little more complex every year. Luckily, with harder work comes bigger rewards. Few jobs are quite as fun and satisfying as that of a summer camp counselor!

Responsibility and freedom

For college students, there’s no way around it; summer jobs and internships can be a drag. Camp is different from a regular job; perhaps the only summer job in the world that requires so much time playing games!

While counselors have plenty of responsibilities when it comes to their campers, counselors who have been campers themselves have a special place in their heart for the relaxation that camp offers. Digital detox is worth its weight in gold — I mean, can you imagine if you were in summer classes right now?!

Counselor training

Whether they’re a veteran camper or excited newcomer, every single counselor at Camp Weequahic goes through intensive training and team-building activities before the first group of campers arrives.

Counselor training is where former campers really shine — because they already know what a magical experience they’re in for, and have all the traditional camp songs down by heart!

Most of all, former campers excel as counselors because they remember what it was like to be a camper themselves, helping them understand the value they offer to their own campers as role models. Veteran campers know that fun and games is serious business, and that all the planning and training is worth it to make sure the summer goes off without a hitch!

Campers forever!

Summer camp is an incredible chance to spend time among your peers, gain independence, and learn about yourself.

Whether you decide to become a bunk specialist, or work in a specialty programing at your camp, you will surely develop important life skills that will help you become a responsible adult — not to mention a super fun role model for generations of Camp Weequahic campers!

Remember, growing up doesn’t have to mean letting go of that summer camp spirit!

Sailing the high seas… or the camp lake!

Monday, January 18th, 2016

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.54.16 PMCamp is filled with activities that allow you to learn new skills and test your limits.

Perhaps one of the most unique activities here at Camp Weequahic when it come to having a blast and building character is sailing.

Sailing teaches many skills; how to tie nautical knots, understand the weather, and control a boat with nothing but the wind to guide you. But like any camp activity, the most important lessons being learned are team building, communication, and the power of believing in yourself!

Team Building

Sailing is a team activity, so learning to work with your “crew” is critical! Whatever style of boat you happen to be sailing, campers are constantly practicing team building skills with other campers on the lake.

  • Campers listen closely to what the rest of their crew is telling them, responding clearly and quickly to commands and questions. If you’re sailing solo, you will still have to communicate with other sailors on the water — so it’s lucky that all the sailing terminology is totally fun!
  • Sailing teaches you to trust in the skills of your crewmates (even if the worst that can happen is getting wet!) You won’t have time to check that every knot is tied correctly, so you’ll soon learn to trust that your friends will stay on top of their duties while you’re on the water, so long as you’re holding up your end of the bargain.
  • When you’re sailing, there’s a job for everyone on the boat. You and your fellow campers will quickly learn to identify situations where you can jump in and help each other.

Self confidence

It’s normal to feel a little hesitant your first time out on the lake. However, with practice you’ll develop your skills and, along with them, self-confidence.

Creating small, measurable goals such as learning new knots can slowly increase your confidence. Small setbacks (like having trouble steering!) followed by successes (catching the wind at just the right angle) teach the importance of bouncing back in the face of discouragement.

Organization and Planning

Managing any boat, even a single-person craft, requires organization and planning. You have to assess multiple factors such as the weather, obstacles in the water, and the lay of the shoreline to navigate your boat to your destination. You also have to keep your sails and lines organized for quick course changes — easily the hardest part of the sailing activity!

Sailing also taps into leadership skills, requiring campers to create a plan and divide responsibilities between the crew. Campers quickly learn to recognize crewmembers’ talents and divide the sailing tasks between everyone aboard accordingly.

Ready for anything

While you’ll learn plenty of physical skills while sailing the camp lake, you will also be practicing important life-skills that can help you at camp, in school, and everywhere else that teamwork and communication are important to success.

The secret to sailing is striking the balance between having a detailed plan and being adaptable when conditions change. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good strategy for most everything at camp — and life in general!

So have a blast on the lake this summer. May the winds always be at your back!

 

Why outdoor adventure skills are important

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 2.58.43 PMAs a camp counselor, I’ve always been surprised by the wide range of lessons that campers take away from the outdoor adventure activities at camp.

Some campers benefit most from building a sense of self-reliance and resourcefulness. Others particularly enjoy the non-competitive aspects of the activities, which combine the adrenaline of sports with the positivity of teamwork. And of course, some campers just like having fun in the sun.

Regardless of interests, everybody at Camp Weequahic gets to benefit from outdoor education. Nature, like adventure, is universally meaningful — and universally fun.

Personal development

A camper must learn to trust themselves before they learn to trust others, and outdoor skill-building is one of the greatest ways to build self-confidence.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 2.43.26 PMThe world is a scary place, and survival skills like fire-starting and shelter-building teach campers that strength comes from within; all it takes to survive and thrive in the world is a little know-how and ingenuity.

…Not to mention that knowing a thing or two about how to pitch a tent and read a map opens up a whole new world of outdoor recreation activities for life outside camp!

Teamwork vs. competition

Teamwork is one of the core values at camp, and nothing builds trust and communication between teammates quite like working together to solve the fundamental human needs that outdoor exploration puts us in touch with. That being said, outdoor adventure still requires a high level of teamwork, even though the objective isn’t “beating” another team.

There are no winners and losers when the goal is to make a campfire or build a cool shelter; it’s campers against the wilderness, rather than campers against campers. Students learn to work together to conquer a challenge, without worrying about accomplishing anything more or less than their absolute best.

Finding our place in the world

When it comes to outdoor adventure at camp, the “outdoor” side is at least as important as the “adventure” side.

Adventure is all well and good, but the raw experience of being in nature is what makes seemingly simple activities like hiking and camping so memorable. Particularly for campers coming from the city, a reminder of how small we all are in the grand scheme of things can be immeasurably valuable. The great outdoors are important for everyone. After all, it’s wild woods, crisp air and clean water that makes Camp Weequahic such a special place to “get away from it all!”

Can-do attitude

Whatever particular aspect of outdoor adventure captures a camper’s imagination, they are guaranteed to walk away with a new sense of empowerment. We live in a fast-paced and quickly changing world, and the outdoor experiences at camp leave campers ready to tackle the world with creativity, determination, and humility. Just get outside and try it!

Baseball fever at summer camp

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

baseball-campBaseball. The crowd going wild while a player steals home. The smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the bleachers. Afternoons playing catch with the family at the park. Generations of American tradition, all wrapped up in one game.

Much like summer camp, baseball is something that many of us take for granted as a part of our childhood. Few activities come close to being so… well, American. Baseball and summer camp are as close to our hearts as flag, family, and country.

…So it should come as no surprise that baseball is one of camp’s most intensely anticipated activities, with campers going wild year after year, debating over particularly clever plays well past the last activity and into the evening.

So what is it that makes baseball so special?

“The thinking person’s sport”

Everyone has their theories around here at camp, but here’s one that seems particularly insightful: baseball, like camp, is a thinking sport. The strategy is different from games like football or basketball — where the adrenaline comes from chaos, and each player is constantly making split-second decisions.

Baseball, on the other hand, requires more planning for the future. Half the game is spent between plays, with players huddled in circles determining their best bets. Like many things in life, the game is all about anticipation. Baseball teaches campers to think ahead, and to enjoy waiting for the fun parts of life. As it turns out, anticipation is often just as fun as the event itself.

Taking time to reflect

Interestingly, many of the campers most excited about baseball at camp aren’t actually players at school. Baseball is their top pick at camp, and meanwhile they play soccer or lacrosse for their teams back at home.

It’s hard to say why this is, but it may be that the leisurely pace of the game is better suited to camp, where campers have a chance to think ahead and reflect in ways that the hectic school year schedule often doesn’t allow. Baseball requires concentration and focus, both of which come easier in a supportive environment like camp where everyone has plenty of time to look inwards — and of course, no homework to keep them distracted!

Room to breath

Everyone needs a little room to breath when they think towards the future. Room to breath is something that camp and baseball have in common. They show us that you don’t have to be doing something every single second of the day in order to have a great time. Sometimes, it’s someone else’s turn — and that’s a good thing. After all, you’ll be using that time to get ready.

…When your turn comes, we know that you’ll shine!