Archive for August, 2016

Competition at Camp

Monday, August 15th, 2016

 

basketballSince before the training wheels were even taken off of my bike, I’ve been playing sports. My older brothers were all exceptional athletes which put a lot of pressure on me; I was constantly being compared to them and thus was always being pushed to run faster, train harder, and jump higher. There was a lot of emphasis put on being the best. I won plenty of medals and trophies and was considered an MVP in most sports that I played. I loved playing, but more than that, I loved winning. I lived for that feeling. I would do whatever it took to be on top and wouldn’t enjoy myself if I wasn’t the champion. Then I went to camp.

 

When I stepped on the camp fields for the first time I began with my usual intensity. It took a second for me to realize just how different the environment was from what I was used to. Usually I’d look around before a game and see serious, intense faces, but instead I saw smiling, happy ones. I realized that while I played to win, my fellow campers had different motives. They enjoyed winning, but they played to learn something new, push themselves and spend an hour doing something they loved. They helped show me there’s a difference between friendly competition and unhealthy competition.

 

My competitive spirit came solely from winning and being the best. I learned that healthy competitiveness comes from improving and being your best self. Instead of being in competition with others, I began competing with my past self. This allowed me to focus on the skills I needed to improve on while still enjoying the game. When you can walk away from a sport and still have had a great time, win or lose, you are a winner.

 

When I got home, I took what I learned and applied it to my sports teams. It was difficult for my dad to learn to calm down, stay quiet, and stop focusing solely on winning, but when he saw how much happier I was and how much I improved, he started to come around.

 

I’m so thankful for Camp Weequahic and how it taught me to be a compassionate, helpful and less stressed athlete and person.

 

Alex, age 14

 

 

Treasure it Forever: the Importance of Camp Mail 

Monday, August 8th, 2016

 

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Mail time at summer camp is a meaningful time for campers and counselors alike. The experience of receiving a postcard or letter from home hearkens back to a time before iPhones, iPads, and the Internet. This is camping, after all!

 

What’s more, it teaches us that all good things come eventually, and those who are patient and thoughtful get the greatest gift of all: mementos of love from friend and family.

Digital detox doesn’t mean total disconnect 

Going from SnapChat to “SnailMail” can be a challenging transition for some campers, but it’s a transition that offers huge rewards: and not because there’s anything “wrong” with texting your friends. It’s just that once you’ve experienced the joy of paper mail, it makes you appreciate the convenience of digital mail all the more.

 

Spending time away from digital connections doesn’t mean you have to disconnect entirely. It just means you have a little more “me” time during the day to spend making new friends, exploring new activities, and generally enjoying your down time from the stresses of school.

Communication is a gift  

As a culture, we often forget that communication is a gift. We look forward to receiving things from one another — it reminds us that we care, and gives us a chance to show what we love about each other. That’s why our counselors always carve out time in camper’s schedules for them to write letters home to family and friends.

 

Even if you just fill it with scribbled drawings or send cards that say “hi!” and nothing else, trust us — you’ll be thrilled to have letters when they come, and you’ll be even more thrilled to have them when you’re back at school.

Something to remember us by 

Life moves fast, and the brief few weeks spent at summer camp each year will blow by quicker than you can imagine. Photos, postcards, and letters will one day be all you have to remember these golden days spent with your best friends in the world.

 

Camp changes us into leaders and adventurers, but at the end of the day there’s something else that makes camp important: the fact that it’s just plain fun. So, treasure those letters from home. Be sure to drop a card in the mail to let the folks back home know you’re thinking of them.

 

One day, when camp is a distant memory, those mementos of your summer will mean the world to you.

Camp and Compromise

Monday, August 1st, 2016


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Growing up as an only child has many perks. I was always the focus on my parents’ attention, I had all of my own stuff, own space, and when a family decision had to be made, I always felt like my opinion was heard and, more often than not, given serious consideration. Sure, there were times when I wished I had a sibling to play with, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the solo child life.

 

As I get older, I’ve started to notice that things that are easy for my friends with siblings, like compromising, taking turns, and being patient, don’t come as naturally to me. Their entire lives are made up of figuring out how to live harmoniously with their siblings. They’ve had to make sacrifices, they’ve had to come second (or third, or fourth) and they’ve had to learn about delayed gratification. They’ve had to think about the well-being of their siblings before themselves, they’ve had to share rooms and clothes and toys, and in turn, these character traits seem to come naturally to them.

 

It took me about 3 hours at camp to realize that I was going to have plenty of opportunities to strengthen these particular traits. Going to camp is like having 100 siblings, and in order for the “family” to run smoothly, everyone has to be willing to compromise, be patient and think of others first. To be totally honest, it was a hard reality to adjust to at first. I quickly learned that my mess wasn’t appreciated or tolerated in a shared space. I also learned that my opinions, wants and needs weren’t the only ones that mattered, and my hesitation to take anyone else’s opinions or thoughts into consideration came across as rude and selfish. That was a slap in the face, and humbling for sure.

 

My counselors were amazing, and were patient and calm when I wasn’t. They took the time to talk to me when I was feeling overwhelmed, crowded or impatient. They helped me look at the bigger picture, and reminded me about how good it felt to work as a team, a family, a collective unit, instead of just thinking about myself.

 

About a week or so into camp, I could already notice the mental shift happening inside of me. I saw the biggest change in my attitude regarding being surrounded by people all of the time. My whole life, I’ve had the luxury of being able to be in my own space and to “get away” whenever I wanted to be alone. I always had my own things and my own space, and getting used to sharing my time and space with others took some getting used to. But as the days turned into weeks, I began looking forward to these group settings and I enjoyed the constant buzz of people around me. I loved our late night chats after lights went out, and I appreciated having people who would share their sunscreen with me when I ran out. Sharing space, time and things with people turned out to not be so bad after all.

 

At the end of camp, I felt like I had gained 50+ siblings, and a whole new set of character traits that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am a more patient person because of camp. I am better at sharing, I compromise more, I’m more giving, more aware of my personal space, more accepting of people’s differences, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

 

I may be the only child at home, but since my summer at camp, I have plenty of camp siblings who are just a text, phone call or email away. Camp gave me much more than just a summer away from home; it has strengthened my character and given me lifelong friends.