Archive for February, 2016

Holy cow! I’m going to camp!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.25.32 AMMany of our first time campers wake up around this time and think, “wait a second – I’m really going to camp!” This thought is normally accompanied by two seemingly opposite feelings – pure excitement and a lots of butterflies in the stomach. Both are completely natural, normal, and, to be honest, I’d be surprised if our newest campers didn’t feel the butterflies!

I had very similar feelings while preparing for my first summer as a camp director 15 years ago. I woke up one month before the kids arrived and thought, “Oh my gosh – what have I gotten myself into?” I knew I was excited about running camp since preparing for camp didn’t really feel like ‘work.’ Plus, I found myself smiling everytime I thought about the kids enjoying camp.

But, I was also nervous. I had never run a camp before and, seeing as this was an all girls camp and I had only one brother (and three sons on the way in the near future), I was more than a little concerned about my lack of knowledge concerning girls. Sure, my bride and co-director, Kate, is brilliant and would make sure I knew everything I needed. Still… the butterflies in my stomack felt large enough to get me airborne.

Luckily, I had spent several years working within the field of sports psychology and competing in golf tournaments and matches. I had come to realize those butterflies I was feeling before camp was just my body saying ‘Ok, you are getting ready to do something pretty amazing and unknown. Let’s get ready.”

There was a lot I did not know 15 years ago about running a summer camp. Thankfully, we had an amazing staff and our kids had a blast. (And, yes, I still feel like I’m learning!)

Of all the topics our first time campers think about, I find there are a consistent top four:

  1. “I don’t know anyone at camp. Will the kids be nice and want to be friends?“
  2. “What will my counselors be like?”
  3. “How will I know where to go?”
  4. “I’m going to miss my parents!”

As for answers, here’s what I think:

Yes, it’s a little daunting coming to a new place and not knowing anyone. WAY TO GO! That courage is the first step in expanding your world in all the right ways. Our campers and staff are super friendly and only want to make new friends. Most of our kids don’t know anyone when they first get to camp. It’ll take you about 15 seconds to make a new friend if you are open to it and about 30 seconds if you are not as open. Because…

Our staff members are amazing. The come to camp because they want to help our campers have an amazing experience and live whole our values of Gratitude, Attitude and Courage. You’ll hear a few interesting dialects as about 1/3rd of our staff come from places like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.17.20 AMAs soon as you arrive, you are going to meet your bunk counselors, go through a quick checkin and get some lunch. Then, you are off to the bunk and then you start running around camp with your bunkmates and counselors. It’s a 2 minute walk from the flagpole (the center of camp) to the beach or a 1.5 minute walk to the driving range. That’s the whole camp – it’s super easy to get around.

Finally: missing home: You will and THAT’S OK! I’ve visited almost everyone of our new campers families in their homes and I totally understand missing them. (To be honest, I miss my kitchen and bed at home from time to time during the summer, too!) The good news is you’ll be having so much fun that, given a bit of time, you’ll be so overcome with camp joy that it will drown out those missing home moments.

So, for our new campers, deep breath – it’s going to be an amazing summer and we can’t wait to get you to camp! See you soon!

 

 

 

Natural rhythms: the timeless traditions that make camp special

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

 

Camp is super duper fun… but every summer camper (or camp counselor) knows that with the fun comes a dash of craziness!

The days are packed with activities, and among those activities are tons of quirky camp traditions.

One of the most special things about summer camp is how traditions are passed on through returning campers and counselors.

Here are a few of our favorite classic camp traditions!

Flag Ceremonies

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No morning is complete without the traditional Camp Weequahic flag ceremony! Like the traditional evening campfire, flag-raising is a time for everyone at camp to gather together and remember that we’re all in it together. (And of course, double-check that no one overslept!)

Like with everything at camp, there is always time to be a little goofy, and flag ceremonies are no exception. From spontaneous camp songs to call-and-response games, you never know what the counselor’s are going to pull out of their sleeves!

Campfires

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Ah, the sweet smell of soot and s’mores…

No camp would be complete without a campfire. Community campfires are a time for the entire group to come together for songs, dance, theater, and of course the infamous talent shows.

Usually the campfire starts with fast, silly songs and a few games to get everyone grounded and relaxed. As the night progresses, slower songs and fun stories are shared around the fire until it’s finally time to say goodnight and return to the cabins. (And brush our teeth! That means you!)

Mealtime songs

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Mmm, lunchtime — everyone’s favorite activity of the day!

(Aside from breakfast and dinner, that is.)

Feeding dozens of campers at the same time would be chaotic if there were no traditions to make mealtime run smoothly. Everyone has to “sing for their supper,” so it’s no surprise that so many camp songs center around food. “Heeeey burrito!”

Camp songs may be one of the strangest traditions to those who have never been to camp — but these ridiculous jingles are something that campers everywhere have in common!

Traditions that keep on giving

Summer camp is an integral part of American life, and the rhythm of day-to-day life lets everyone play their part in the story.

From all-camp events like dances, talent shows, and barbecues, to specific hiking songs, camp life has something for everybody. Trust us, you’ll get into the swing of things before you know it.

…And before long, you’ll be ready to participate in the best camp tradition of all — making your own!

It’s just a camp thing

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 12.29.47 PM“It’s just a camp thing.” If you’ve ever been a summer camper or camp counselor, chances are it’s a phrase you know well. I mean, how else can you explain all the wacky traditions at summer camp?

From the absurd lunchtime songs to the campfire skits full of inside jokes, camp and school are as different as apples and orangutans. (And just like apples and orangutans, one is a whole lot more unexpected than the other!)

Here are just a few of the ways that camp is different from life at school! A word of warning: don’t read this list if summer is far away!

Yes, summer camp is that awesome. 🙂

Fact: “fun in the sun” is good for your health

You know that “fun in the sun” puts a smile on your face — but did you also know that it provides you with vitamin D, keeping your mind and body healthy?

Not only that, but some studies have even shown that time in the sun can combat a variety of common problems from depression to fatigue. Who knew!

Our “thesis” has always been that camp makes you happy. Turns out there’s some science to back up our hunches! 😉

A break from homework

Homework is a healthy part of your school experience, but it certainly won’t be following you out to Camp Weequahic.

In fact, we have a strict anti-homework rule in place! (Just kidding — if you really want to do some multiplication tables or summer readying, be our guest! And more power to you.)

Learning still happens at Camp Weequahic, but it’s all experiential learning. While math class is good for you arithmetic skills, the activities at camp tend to focus on building other skills: like leadership, compassion, and teamwork. Thankfully, playing games with your friends tends to be way more fun than practicing grammar rules before a test!

Learning at camp

1017751_10152804400071419_2791228752166886111_nJust because it’s far away from school doesn’t mean learning stops when you’re at summer camp. From team sports that build your communication abilities to craft workshops that get you in touch with your inner artist, camp activities are carefully designed to always be teaching you an important life skill.

Taking a break from “hitting the books” is great for making sure you’re fully charged for the next year, and all the activities and social opportunities at summer camp make it the perfect place to recharge!

Counselors vs. Teachers

Just like school, camp isn’t completely a free-for-all. Our team of highly-trained and passionate counselors are always on hand to make sure the fun and games go off without a hitch.

That being said, counselors and teachers have a few differences. If you’ve ever been in a big brother or big sister program, you probably have a good idea of what having a counselor is like. Someone who looks out for you, guides you through any conflict or questions you have about life at camp, and makes sure you brush your teeth a couple times a day.

The difference is, camp counselors act about 100 times more zany while they do it! Remember, we’re here to have the time of our lives!

…But don’t take our word for it. Come join in the fun!

The only way to truly discover how different camp life is from school life is to try it out. It’ll be different from anything you’ve ever done before, but we have a feeling you’re an adventurous sort anyway. Plus, you’ll finally understand what everyone means when they say “it’s just a camp thing.”

Those of you who are summer camp regulars, be sure to keep your grades up and hang in there. We promise summer will be here before you know it!

Mythbusters: Camp Lore Vs. Camp Fact!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 4.46.37 PMIf you’re considering going to camp for the first time, you probably have some ideas and expectations about what it’ll be like. Fire circles and archery! Ghost stories and sailing on the lake!

However, there are a few misconceptions about camp that many campers arrive with, mostly passed down through movies and books.

Want to know what it’s actually like at camp? Keep reading to find out four common camp myths that are just totally not true!

Myth: Making friends is hard.

Fact: Camp is the perfect place to make new friends!

From the moment you arrive, your camp counselors will introduce you to the other campers by leading fun “get to know you” activities. Emphasis is always on having fun and learning about each other. Classic camp games like “two truths and a lie” give everyone a chance to share something they’re passionate about — whether it’s Minecraft, ice cream, or just being at camp finally!

Unlike school, camp is filled with games and sport activities, giving you plenty of time to talk with other campers and work together as a team. Teamwork at camp builds trust and memories, a perfect foundation for lasting friendship.

Myth: I’m too old for summer camp.

Fact: Summer camp is fun for all ages.

Younger campers enjoy experiencing a variety of activities at camp. Everything is new and interesting and so you sample everything camp has to offer.

Older campers enjoy more in-depth, focused programs. For example, as a young camper you might create a simple clay project during arts and crafts. As an older camper you may have the opportunity to spend more time working on the pottery wheel. While the activities are similar, older campers have the opportunity to go more in-depth to the “craft” of an activity — it’s never just the same thing year after year!

Leadership programs are also available for older campers, with activities like overnight camping and high ropes coursework that younger campers don’t get to do… yet! These give older campers leadership experience, a bit more freedom at camp, and look great on college applications.

Myth: I won’t like any of the food, and I’ll go hungry.

Fact: There are many food choices and your counselors will make sure you get a balanced diet that suits your preferences!

Camp offers a huge variety of food at every meal. (Honestly, lunch is one of the highlights of the day! It’s that good.)

Besides special meals for campers with dietary restrictions, you are always able to choose from a selection of main dishes and a salad bar. Fruit is also available during meals and as a snack. Your counselors may encourage you to try new things, but no one is “forced” to eat anything — counselors work tirelessly to make sure campers get all the nutrition they need for a long day of running around camp!

Myth: I’ll feel “out of the loop” if I’ve never been to camp before.

Fact: Camp is a fun and lighthearted place — perfect for newcomers!

There’s no such thing as trying new things without feeling a little “out of the loop” sometimes. Luckily, camp is among the easiest places to break the ice and start getting into the swing of things. The whole structure of camp, from the activities to the group meals, is specifically designed to make it easy for campers to get to know one another and feel like “part of the team.”

Camp may seem like a mysterious place before you go, but there’s no mystery about how to have fun once you’re here!

Sometimes, the only way to find out for yourself is to take the plunge and come out to summer camp. It’s an unforgettable experience that will keep you coming back again and again.