Posts Tagged ‘21st century skills’

21st Century Skills at Weequahic

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

As a parent, I find myself falling into the trap of wanting my kids to “grow up” too quickly. In my more impatient moments, I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they make/do/think/etc. like I can?” Why can’t they grow up?

 

And then I see one of the greatest coaches of all time talk about the importance of attitude and joy and the consequences of college kids acting like 12 year olds.

 

Which reminds me – my boys are young! And, while I’ve taught them what it means to make good decisions, treat others kind, be thoughtful of others feelings, know and how to stand up for what’s important, they are still kids and they are supposed to make mistakes.

 

They aren’t grown ups and that’s a good thing. A very sweet story from Fredrik Backman illustrates this point beautifully:

 

“Tell me about school, Noahnoah,” Grandpa asks.

 

He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults who want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.

 

“Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big,” Noah tells him.

 

 “What did you write?”

 

“I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.”

 

I like that. And, it helps me explain the gift of camp. We want our kids to concentrate on being kids before anything else. They’ll grow up soon enough and we’ll have done our part in equipping them for that growth.

 

But what does that mean? At Weequahic, we think it means:

 

Play

Our campers get to play. They turn off, unplug, and engage with other kids who want to do the same. The get to explore with no expectations other than their safety, adventure without knowing the end result, and laugh without a care.

 

This leads to….

 

Experiential Learning

These big words really just means ‘figuring things out.’ You get your hands dirty. You sweat. You get confused and then break it apart and try again. Then, you figure it out and that knowledge is yours… forever. And, it not just about doing things – its about emotions and handling missing home and everything else. (This is where independence starts to blossom.)

 

This is helps and is helped by….

 

Making new friends

The more our campers get excited about something, the more likely they are to get connected with kids doing the same thing – they want to learn together. They want to build community. They want to reach out and trust and explore with others who feel the same. PLUS, they are surrounded by mentors excited to guide, prod, and team along the way.

 

This leads to….

 

Building Courage

Here’s the thing we don’t realize all the time: Courage is a muscle that is built with use. It’s not about being ‘unafraid.’ Being uncomfortable is the only time we can practice courage. And, the more friends/support we have around us, the easier it is to build those courage muscles.

 

Higher levels of personal courage allows us to be a peace with ourselves, more comfortable in our own skin.

 

This leads to…

 

Practicing Gratitude

It’s pretty simple: grateful people are happier people. And, it actually takes some courage to express gratitude since it might make you feel awkward the first time or two you do it. It takes even more courage to live by those grateful words. But the more we do, the more we get to experience….

 

Wonder and Joy

This is the final step in that ‘what do we campers out of camp’ chain. If they’ve played, learned without knowing it, made some friends, built their courage, and started practicing a grateful outlook, the are MUCH more likely to live with wonder and joy.

 

So, are these 21st Century Skills? Well, I think they are. We’ll still need to be able to cook our meals, change a tire, etc. But, with the rise of automation and technology, we’ll need to prepare our kids to become adults with these important skills. And, to me, camp is a great place to get them rolling.

 

Can’t wait to get everyone to camp! With GAC,
Cole

 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone at Camp Weequahic

Monday, March 20th, 2017

It is pretty hard to step out of your comfort zone when you are literally in your comfort zone. Being in the comfort of your own home makes breaking your normal routine a little difficult.  When you are at home, you find that you are always waking up in your same room, eating breakfast at the same place, going to the same places and hanging out with the same people who are doing the same things.  Many people like routine; they enjoy the security of knowing what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen and not having any surprises. Unfortunately, things can get very boring very quickly this way.

 

So when you make the decision to physically get out of your comfort zone, and head to camp for the summer, you have no choice but to do different things, with different people, in a totally different place. Breaking your usual routine is a little bit easier when you’re somewhere else.

 

Breaking up your routine is good for you for many reasons.  First, it helps you to see things differently. It also help you to become more creative, more perceptive, and be OK with not being in control all the time.  When you get out of your comfort zone, you are bound to make mistakes. The good thing about mistakes is that they are a learning opportunity. The more mistakes you make the more you learn.  Doing things that make you nervous, afraid, or uncomfortable can be a great teaching tool.  If you are normally an indoor sort of person, bike riding, rock climbing, or learning to sail may make you kind of nervous. However, trying these things exposes you to experiences that are new and exciting, and can teach you a lot about yourself.

 

When you expose yourself to things that are unfamiliar, it makes your brain work. When your brain is working, you’re constantly learning and growing. It is great brain exercise to step out of your comfort zone and do things that are a little different.

 

Another great benefit of breaking up your every day routine is that it also allows you to break bad habits. If you find that you are constantly biting your nails while you watch TV, you may be able to break that habit at camp since you will be too busy having fun to care about TV.  If you have a bad habit of interrupting people, you will quickly learn to communicate more effectively by being surrounded by new people at camp. Breaking up your routine also causes you to break bad habits.

 

The great thing about stepping out of your comfort zone at camp is that you hardly have to do any work at all. Just by merely being at camp you are already taking the first step in changing your routine.  Every morning when you wake up at camp, there is a new day ahead of you with new experiences to try, new people to meet, and new things to learn.  Unless you sail, dance, create, climb, swim, bike ride, hike, and explore on a daily basis at home, being at camp is definitely going to be a change in your normal every day routine.  It is going to require you to do things that make you a little nervous, but in the end will give you a boost of confidence.

 

Habit and routine can be comforting, and can be a great way to stay organized and on track. However, switching it up a little bit is good for your brain, good for your soul, and good for yourself confidence.

 

How Camp Taught Me to be Humble

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Camp is a lot of things. It’s fun and it’s gorgeous and it’s exciting. But it’s also very big. It’s acres and acres of land, its gigantic trees and sprawling landscapes and giant lakes. It is set against giant mountains and has a unique way of quickly reminding everyone who enters about how small they are in the grand scheme of things.

Camp has a funny way of putting things into perspective for both campers and staff, and it can be a humbling experience. It’s interesting how one camper who is considered “popular” at school enters the camp experience completely equal to the quiet and reserved student who doesn’t say much at school. Status at school and at home means nothing here and puts everyone on the same playing field from day one.

Take Max for example: Being the star athlete was how he defined himself at home. He was the fastest and strongest on his team, and everyone knew it. But when he got to camp, he met some other guys who were equally as talented, some even more so, and it challenged Max to find other ways to define himself. He did a lot of soul-searching that summer, and learned about the deep and foundation character traits that defined him, and learned that being a great athlete was just a part of who he was, not all of who he was.

Life lessons like this are learned all the time at camp. Campers can learn humility in other ways as well. One of the best ways to learn to be humble is by serving others. Campers see first hand how to serve others selflessly every day as they watch counselors and staff work hard for them. Campers also act as Big Brothers and Big Sisters and learn quickly what a big responsibly it is to have people look up to you.

Camp is such a unique experience, and many campers leave with a deep appreciation of the experience they were gifted. They understand that so many kids across the country don’t have access to such an innovative, hands-on, safe, fun and diverse camp experience, and they leave camp truly humbled and grateful for what they have.

Character building and life lessons are built into the foundation of Camp Weequahic. Campers learn a lot about themselves here and develop a deeper and more genuine understanding of themselves and the world around them, all while they jump, dive, sing, run, play, act, create, dance and swim the days away.

Jamming Out at Camp

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Music can be tied into so many activities and experiences at camp. From songs around the campfire to traveling songs, incorporating music into camp life just comes naturally. For campers who are interested in fine arts such as dance, music and theatre, music is a tool that can be used to express themselves in a way that written or spoken word just can’t. Dance classes give campers an artistic outlet to do what they love, and can create a strong sense of self-confidence.  Camp Weequahic gives them the opportunity to explore music as a way of self-expression, and has so many benefits for the growing minds of young campers.

 

Whether it is singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, music works wonders on a growing, adolescent brain, and can teach them things that build their character and helps them become more productive members of society. While they are having fun with their fellow campers and counselors through music instruction, they don’t realize they are becoming more creative, more communicative, and more well- rounded in the process. At the end of the summer, many campers are proud to go home and show off their new musical abilities, and it gives them a sense of pride to have learned something new while they were away from home.

 

Children who learn to play an instrument at an early age benefit in many ways. It teaches perseverance, helps with math and number skills, enhances coordination, improves memory, reading and comprehension skills, and can help sharpen focus and concentration. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument has lifelong benefits, which is why music and access to instruments is such an important part of camp life. Campers can learn to play the guitar, participate in a live show, or learn about the behind the scenes workings of a real radio station. Camp provides plenty of options for all kinds of personalities and learning styles to really dive into music and everything it can teach them.

 

It is safe to assume that most campers are exposed to music on a daily basis back at home, but at camp they are exposed to different types of music, which broadens their horizons and helps them become more culturally aware. They learn to appreciate different styles of music, and learn the history behind specific music styles, instruments and songs.

 

Camp Weequahic is all about providing children with the tools and resources they need to build their character and set up a foundation for a successful future. This goal could not be reached without the incorporation of dance, songs and musical instruments into the every day life of the campers.

Taking the Camp Weequahic Spirit Home with You

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

When camp comes to an end, you’ll pack up your trucks and head home to get ready for another busy school year. When you leave, you’ll leave with a lot more than you came with. Your journals will be full of memories, your phones will be full of new phone numbers for all of your new friends, and you, as an individual, will leave with a new sense of confidence and independence that you only get when you spend a summer at Camp Weequahic.

 

There are different ways different campers bring a little piece of camp spirit home with them. You may find yourself humming one of the whacky camp tunes as you clean your room, which will bring back memories of campfires and canoeing on the lake.

 

You may find yourself digging through your laundry basket to find your super comfortable camp t-shirt, the one that reminds you of scoring the winning soccer goal or laughing until you cry at one of the shows put on by some of your best friends. You may search your room for your beloved camp hat or sweatshirt, as the perfectly worn in feeling brings back warm memories of late night talks and adventures outside.

 

Your family members may notice that you come back with a new sense of confidence, a new passion for sports or the arts, or a brand new sense of independence. They may notice that you left for camp one way, and came home with the camp spirit still dancing inside of you. They may notice you are happier, more active, and more willing to try new things. A lot happens at camp that causes changes and shifts within you, and it is impossible not to take those experiences and lessons and apply them into your normal routine back home. Shy campers may find it easier to make new friends, outgoing campers may learn to find comfort in quiet time and connecting with Mother Nature. Camp has this special way of exposing campers to a side of themselves that they may not normally see. This is the spirit of camp that comes home with each and every camper.

 

And next summer, when you come back, you’ll be amazed at all of the new things you take home with you. Year after year, even after you think you’ve done and learned and experienced everything camp has to offer, you still come home with something new each summer. You may learn that you don’t need to be constantly connected to Wifi to feel connected. You may learn that there is something special about spending time in nature. Every summer, campers take a little something extra home with them that stays with them for the rest of their life.

 

Lucky for you, a lot of the camp spirit that you’ll take home with you, and carry with you for the rest of your life, won’t take up any extra space in your camp trunk.

 

 

 

 

Camp Weequahic: Forever Changing, Yet Exactly the Same

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Camp is one of those things that meets campers exactly where they are. It has this unique way of providing campers with exactly what they need, sometimes before the campers even know they need it. Camp has a way of being the perfect combination of excitement and relaxation and has been that way for over 70 years.

 

In 70 years, a lot has changed at camp, but a lot has stayed the same. Over time, camp has transformed to meet the needs of the campers who come each year. The lake has always been central to the camping experience; even before jet boats were invented. The style of bathing suits may have changed, but the memories created in the lakes stay the same. The cabins may have been without porches then, but the stories and late night conversations inside of them were as special then as they are now. The camp has seen many upgrades throughout the years, but the feeling that camp gives campers throughout the summer never changes.

 

If campers from last summer were to sit down with campers from 50 years ago, they would have a lot in common. They would be able to trade stories about competing in Olympics, and they would be able to bust out the lyrics to some of the camp’s most popular songs, songs that haven’t changed since day one. They would be able to reminisce about the delicious camp lunches, the campfires, and all of the different sports and activities that filled up their days at camp. Even though a lot of time has passed, campers from 50 years ago would recognize camp as a place where they felt cared about, understood and accepted. Campers from last summer would be able to talk about new facilities, updated cabins and high-tech classes and workshops, but would be familiar with the overall feeling of acceptance and encouragement that is the foundation of Camp Weequahic.

 

Camp must change in order to meet the needs of the incoming generations of campers. It must have a sense of flexibility and growth to cater to new campers while holding on to its foundational values and traditions that have made it the camp it is today.  Camp is constantly changing and improving, but as always, is committed to being a place of friendships, fun, and life-long learning.

What I Learned From a Summer at Camp Weequahic

Monday, December 12th, 2016

My mom has this ritual of asking me, every day, about what I learned that day. Sometimes I shrug and say “I don’t know,” and other times I spit out interesting facts about blue whales or Egyptian pyramids or volcanoes that I learned that day at school. So in the car the day I got home from a summer at Camp Weequahic, I wasn’t surprised when she asked me what I had learned while being away. She was surprised, however, at my response.

 

I told her that I learned a lot of new skills that I would never have experienced if I had stayed home. I learned how to play lacrosse and sail. I learned to fish and learned a lot of crazy songs that have been stuck in my head all summer. I learned how to get from one side of camp to the other in the shortest amount of time, I learned how to make the perfect S’more, and even learned how to paint. I was exposed to so many new opportunities and experiences, that I felt like I was learning something new every day!

 

But in the first few days at home, I kept thinking about other things I learned while I was at camp. Things that were more about character than skill. Things that will help me in life more than knowing the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow ratio on a S’more. When Jessi and I had that big disagreement, our counselors walked us through a communication plan that left both of us feeling heard, understood and we walked away with our issue totally resolved. I learned how to recognize when someone was feeling left out or lonely, and quickly invited them to sit, play or hang out with me. I learned a lot about how to interact with different people and learned to appreciate differences in people without judgment. At the end of the summer, I realized that sometimes I was so focused on the quantity of friends that I have, that I wasn’t focused on the quality. After spending a summer at camp, I learned the importance of having a handful of true friends who are there for you no matter what, who accept you for who you are, and who are honest and real with you.

 

I learned quickly that I’m a naturally messy and unorganized person, but that keeping my stuff picked up and clean in areas that I share with others is a sign of respect, and learned quickly to live in close proximity with other people and respecting boundaries and personal space. I learned to compromise, to be flexible, and how to manage my time.

 

I learned that I can, in fact, function without my cell phone and that not everything I do has to be documented through a “selfie.” I learned that without a cell phone glued to my side, I could focus more on the actual experience rather than getting the perfect shot, choosing the best filter, and then waiting impatiently for my friends to “like” and “comment” on the picture through social media.

 

I didn’t overwhelm my dear ‘ol mom with all of these things that I learned, and instead just gave her little stories here and there to demonstrate all of the new things I had learned at camp. Sometimes, she was the one telling me about the difference that she noticed in me, things that I had learned that made an obvious difference in my attitude and character. She noticed I was more patient with my little sister, more helpful to her and my dad, I was a better team player for my soccer team, and as school rolled around, she noticed I was focusing more on my grades.

 

I learned a lot at Camp Weequahic. Some of the things are basic skills that are fun to know, while others are foundational qualities that I really feel with set me up for better relationships and experiences for the rest of my life. I’m thankful that going to camp was such a fun and natural way to learn so many new things.

The Beauty of Camp Weequahic

Monday, November 28th, 2016

 

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Chelsea takes the subway to school every morning.  Justin spends his weekends hanging out downtown with his buddies. Evan can walk to movie theaters, restaurants, and museums from the apartment where he lives. These city kids spend most of their year surrounded by concrete, honking horns and tall buildings. And that is why they, like so many other kids from big cities, really look forward to coming to camp for a change in their environment.

 

Camp Weequahic is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked away amongst tall trees, gorgeous lakes and on acres and acres of sprawling green fields, this camp is the definition of natural beauty. When you’re here, you can really connect with nature and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

 

The lakes are a cool and refreshing place to spend the summer, whether is it fishing, swimming, stand up paddleboarding, water skiing or sailing. The view of the lake changes throughout the day and gives off a different feeling depending on when you are there. In the morning, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to wake up to. In the afternoons, it is an exciting, water playground where campers jump, splash and play all day. And then in the evenings, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to reflect and unwind. City kids may not get to experience such natural beauty in their everyday lives, making the beauty of camp even more special for kids who don’t get to see it very often.

 

Waking up to a view of tall forest trees and the mountains is a nice change for kids who are used to the hustle and bustle of a big city.  The natural beauty of camp makes for the perfect backdrop to pictures that campers are sure to treasure forever. Waking up each morning and breathing in the crisp mountain air is good for the heart, mind, and soul!

 

Being immersed in the beauty of the mountains is a welcome and unique experience for many campers.  Spending the summer learning to appreciate the outdoors helps campers do the same when they return home. Instead of coming home from school and sitting in front of a computer screen or TV, campers head outside to enjoy nature just like they did at camp.  They learn that they don’t need to be attached to phone, TV or computer to have a good time and that real relationships trump online relationships every time.

 

Being in the middle of the woods exposes campers, especially those who have grown up in big cities, to things they normally wouldn’t see and experience back home. They learn to find excitement and joy in nature, and it awakens something in them that the city just can’t.

 

Kids like Chelsea, Justin and Evan benefit greatly from a change of scenery and the chance to connect with nature. Spending time outside has been proven to improve vision, encourages social skills, reduce stress and give kids the vitamin D that they need. Who knew spending all day outside at camp is actually good for kids?!

 

Whether they grew up in the suburbs or in the middle of Times Square, kids love escaping to the mountains, and spending their summers on the lake, in the mountains and surrounded by nature.

 

Kids Don’t Remember the Best Day of Television…They Will Remember Their Favorite Day of Camp

Monday, November 14th, 2016

 

weeq1Sitting on fences is not safe. If your kid was sitting on a fence, you’d tell them to get off before they fell backward and hurt themselves. But there you are, sitting on the metaphorical fence, hemming-and-hawing about whether or not to give your kid the best summer on the planet.

 

If your kids don’t go to camp this year, they’ll survive. They’ll watch some a lot of TV, sleep in, eat whatever they can find in the pantry, hang out with their friends (probably in your living room, with their smelly, teenage socks all over your couch) maybe visit grandma, do some swimming, and complain on day 5 of vacation that they are bored. You know it’s true because it has happened every single summer since they started kindergarten.  And now, for one reason or another, they have been begging and begging to go to summer camp and you keep telling them you need time to think about it.  At the end of summer, is it going to warm your heart to listen to them brag about how they binge-watched Netflix all summer, or would you rather hear them gush about the new friend they made, the sports they tried and experiences they will never forget?  It’s time to get off the fence.

 

Instead of watching TV all summer, your child could spend weeks in the mountain, hanging around campfires, making new friends, sailing and fishing and swimming and creating memories of a lifetime.  Instead of you having to yell at them to clean their room or find something to do, you would be reading letters about how they faced their fears and tried something new  at camp.  Instead of struggling to find something for them to do every day of the summer, you could have a little R&R yourself, knowing your kid is having a blast.  Instead of eating junk all day and sleeping in until noon, they could be filling their bellies with nutritious lunches, and waking up early to start their day of fun.  Instead of having a plain old boring summer, they could go back to school with story after story about hiking adventures, zip lines, smores under the stars and inside jokes with all of their new friends.

 

They spend the entire school year sitting down. They sit in their classes, they sit at lunchtime, and they come home and sit and do homework, and they sit and eat dinner and then they sit and watch TV and then they go to bed. And they wake up and do it all again the next day and the next day and the next day. So when summer comes along, why not reward them by giving them a chance to run, play, stretch and really be kids? Summer camp is the best place to do that.  Another great benefit of camp is all of the growing and learning that is done, most of the time without them even knowing it. They learn to compromise and communicate and learn self-discipline and self-confidence, things they definitely don’t learn sitting home in front of the TV all day.

 

If you’re really still on the fence about sending and your kid to camp, think about this: they won’t remember their favorite day of watching TV all day, but they will remember the lifetime memories made every day at camp.