There are many things campers notice when they arrive at camp the first day. They notice the cabins, all of the new faces, the baseball fields, ropes course, tennis courts and acres and acres of open space to run in, play in and explore in. But one of the most breathtaking and exciting parts of camp is the lake. With “so-clear-you-can see-right-to-the-bottom” waters, the lake and sandy shoreline is a popular place for campers to spend the majority of their summers.
When it comes to watersports, campers can try a variety of different options while at Camp Weequahic. Campers can relax and learn the art of fishing, or work their muscles on a standup paddle board, or they can get their heart rate up as they experience the speed and thrill of wakeboarding and water skiing. The lake doesn’t just offer a location to try new sports; it serves as the backdrop for the time in their lives when kids will remember they tried something new. It will be the place they fondly remember as the spot where they faced their fears, tried something new, and had the time of their lives.
The lake also serves as a great place for reflection and peace. A quiet stroll along the shoreline can be a great place for a confidential conversation between friends, a quiet place for journaling or writing letters back home, or simply a place to connect with nature. Warm, sunny days heat the water to a comfortable 80 degrees during the day, making it easy to run, splash and play in the crystal clear waters all day long. (Don’t worry, sunscreen is readily available and lifeguards and other professionals are always around!)
The lake is a central part of camp, and it brings campers together in a variety of ways. Camp Weequahic would feel incomplete without all of the activities, events and life lessons that are centered on the lake. Self-confidence, friendships and trust are all built on the lake. Campers who come from a part of the country where they don’t have access to such a beautiful part of nature really connect and enjoy everything the lake has to offer.
The lake is so much more than just a body of water in the middle of camp. The lake is a place that campers really connect with, and where lifelong memories are made.
I’m still amazed by the fun and unique skills I acquired as a camper for 8 years of my life. Camp brought me to the mountains each summer, out of the smog and into the fresh air, where sometimes I felt like I could breathe for the first time; literally and figuratively.
I was obsessed about those weeks at camp during the summer all year long. What new campers would I meet? Who would be my counselor? But mostly it was about the activities that I looked forward to participating in. Each day at camp was action-packed with things to do, and many of the skills I learned proved beneficial in the future – although some proved to be just for fun. Here are the best skills that summer camp taught me:
How to be a Crafting Goddess: To this day I’m an avid crafter and Do-it-yourselfer. For one thing, there was the beading. We’d make friendship bracelets and necklaces – something I still do today – and there was also painting and drawing, which remained important throughout my youth. The silk screening was perhaps my favorite.
How to be Brave in the Face of Ropes and Obstacle Courses: If you’re not familiar with something called ‘high ropes’, then you should know that it’s a serious courage/team building experience. The aerial obstacle course – with the use of harnesses and ropes – was seriously one of the most terrifying things I ever did as a kid, and the most exhilarating. It inspired a rock-climbing passion in my later life.
How to Canoe: Not only was canoeing a big part of camp, but also sailing and swimming. Any reservations I had about getting in the water when I was little were put to rest at camp.
Target Shooting: Ok, this might not sound like a good idea, but archery was a big deal at camp, and sharpened my precision and focus. It also just made me feel like I was super cool.
Sing with Courage: The first time I sang in front of a crowd was at a campfire, and it took courage. I wasn’t the best singer, but it did impress a few of my friends. No shame in that.
How to be Comfortable with Nature: Camp was the first time in my life that I slept under the stars. I was scared at first of the bugs, the ground, animals; you name it. But I learned that it’s pretty spectacular, and today I’m still not afraid of the big bad wolf.
Social Skills: In hind sight, I realize that this might have been the greatest thing that camp taught me. When you’re sleeping in a cabin with 13 other girls, or boys, your age, you learn how to interact and get along with people who are different than you. You learn about the commonalities that you share with those of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. This is a skill that benefits every aspect of your life as an adult, and I’m grateful that camp taught me how to get along with people.
In the end, it’s clear that I took a great deal away from my camping experience as a kid. I wouldn’t give-up those memories for all the world, but it’s really the things I learned to do and the skills I still have today that made the whole camping experience totally worthwhile.
In our first summer at CW in 2009, we had 120 campers from seven states and two countries. It was great – our campers came from lots of places and were thrilled to meet kids and staff from all lots of different places..
Over the ensuing eight years, camp has grown to include over 200 boys and 200 girls from sixteen states and eleven different countries. In fact, our campers fly or drive in from every continent on Earth (well… except for the big block of ice at the South Pole….)
When families ask ‘where do most of your campers come from?’, the East Coast is the best way to answer. We have pretty equal numbers from New York City, southern Florida, greater Washington DC and New Jersey. We have smaller but still vibrant populations from Westchester County, Philadelphia, Georgia, Long Island, and California as well as several states.
This allows our campers to build relationships with kids who they can see throughout the year either close to home or on a vacation to fun spots. We love seeing all the pictures of kids who get to see one another throughout the year!
In addition to our US kids, we enjoy campers from France, Spain, Belgium, China, Russia, India, Columbia, Sweden, Texas, Italy, and Equatorial Guinea among others. While our international campers make up only about ten percent of our total population, they add a wonderful ‘smaller Earth’ perspective for all of our campers and have been a joy to have at CW.
While our campers are our main focus, we could not have nearly as much fun as we do without our amazing staff. Two-thirds of our staff come from all over the US while the rest come from too many countries to list. Suffice it to say, our international night gets pretty rowdy! These staff members come for one reason alone: to create a remarkable experience for every person they encounter through Gratitude, Attitude and Courage.
We are so excited to have campers and staff of all sizes, colors, and backgrounds at CW each summer. Our diverse community has a blast learning, growing and laughing together.
So, don’t be surprised if you see Weequahic gear being spotted on the Champs-Elysees, Broadway, Cinque Terra, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Golden Gate Bridge or near the Great Wall. Our people wear Weequahic all over the world!
I 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!
We talk a great deal about gratitude at CW. Even though it comes up often, not everyone knows exactly how to define it.
There are a number of definitions but our favorite comes from researcher Robert Emmons. He tells us that gratitude “is an affirmation of the good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received… and we recognize that the sources of this ‘goodness’ are outside of ourselves.”
So, how do we work gratitude into our daily lives at camp? Lots of ways!
It comes up every night before going to bed in the form of a question: “What are your two ‘happies’ for the day?” This forces (in a good way) our campers to think about all the great things they’ve enjoyed that day before going to bed.
It’s explored with our staff during their interviews and repeated often during their nine-day orientation before camp starts. We find that college aged women and men who already hold gratitude as an important part of their life to be more interested and interesting staff members. It comes up often in our winter office when we look back over the previous summer and plan for the next. (We have a fantastic job!) And, thankfully, it mentioned a lot when speaking to parents and campers about their experience with us.
At Camp Weequahic, we find it vitally important to demonstrate gratitude on a daily basis by saying thank you, writing a quick note, or sharing a kind word with one another. This is so much more effective than simply speaking about it or learning from a book.
We believe community that practices gratitude on all levels throughout the day is a happier, more patient, and more engaged community. And, it’s one worth building every day.
During the school year, there is no better way to learn about camp than to have a home visit with our camp director, Cole Kelly. These roughly one hour gatherings give each family time to ask any and all questions they have about the camp, learn more about the overall program, and see pictures of our campers’ daily lives.
The goal of each visit is to build a connection between your family and camp. We are going to be caring for your camper for three or six weeks. Therefore, it is vitally important that each family feel comfortable with Cole as he sets the tone, oversees all staff hiring, and is an integral part in each camper’s experience. And, when parents call during the summer, Cole will be the person calling them back to answer questions.
Another reason for the home visit is answer all the questions that arise. What is the daily program like? How do you select, hire and train your staff? What are the campers in my child’s age group like? These questions, and many more, are asked in the comfort of your own home and with (or without) your camper present.
If you are interested in learning more about CW, please call us to speak. If after learning more you’d like a home visit, we’ll be happy to schedule a time when Cole and stop by to learn more about your family.
I was nervous and excited to send my son Connor to Camp Weequahic this year. Connor’s best friend attended the camp the summer before and could not stop raving about it. So after plenty of research and discussions, we decided to let Connor spend the summer away. I won’t lie, my “mommy heart” broke a little when he practically jumped out of the car at drop off and didn’t look back, but I was pretty sure we were making the right decision. Last week, when we picked him up, I was 100% sure we had made the right decision. The excited, smiley kid who jumped into our backseat was….different.
I couldn’t pin point many differences right away, except for the excitement in his eyes and voice when he talked about all of his new friends and cracked himself up remembering inside jokes and hilarious conversations with his new buddies. One of the main things I noticed when we got home was how helpful he had become. Without me asking, he would make his bed, take his plates to the sink, offer to bring in the groceries or even simply ask if he could get us anything from the kitchen since he was going that way. I noticed a new sense of thoughtfulness when he came back. Not that he was heartless before by any means, but I definitely noticed a change in his willingness to help others and think of others before himself. As the days passed, my heart exploded with joy to see him excited to email, chat and FaceTime all of his new friends. He went to camp a little reserved, and came back social and confident. I loved seeing him interact with his peers, I loved seeing how he was truly listening to what others had to say, and how he felt confident contributing to the conversation.
Just today, he told me he was going to try out for soccer tryouts at school, a sport he had never played before camp. He said he was encouraged to try it at camp and played it almost every day while he was there. As a mom, I am blown away at what positive changes have come from sending my son to camp. I knew he would make friends, try a new activity or two, and learn to live both independently and with a group, but I had no idea about the social skills, character development, relational growth, and boost in confidence that spending just a few weeks away could create.
Any parent that is even thinking about sending their kid to camp should stop thinking right now and sign them up. Not only will you enjoy a few kid-free weeks of relaxation, but when your kid comes home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at everything they’ve learned, and more importantly, who they’ve become.
Camp Weequahic changed my son for the better, and we are both looking forward to the growth and changes that will happen next summer at camp!
So what makes a great summer camp experience for your child? Awesome friends, a ton of fun activities and great memories, but most of all an amazing group of staff members. The counselors we hand pick to join our staff are really what makes the camp experience that much better for campers. But what draws counselors in to the Weequahic family? Let’s ask some of our new and returning staff members to find out!
Camp: “Sidney, this is your second summer. It’s great to have you back! What brought you back to CW?”
Sidney (Junior Girls): “I had an incredible all around experience last summer, so I had to come back for another. I was also really excited to see returning staff who have become some of my best friends. And, of course, I can’t forget the awesome campers here!”
Camp: “We are so happy to hear that you had such a great time. Tell us what your favorite part of this experience has been?”
Sidney: “I would have to say watching and getting to know the kids and staff has been an incredible experience. Forming the awesome relationships that make up the Weequahic family has been great too.”
Camp: “And what have you learned this summer?”
Sidney: “I’ve learned a lot being here; especially patience, how to work well with many different types of people, leadership, and how much the little things truly matter.”
Camp: “I would have to agree completely with that statement. One last question for you. What will you miss the most when you leave?”
Sidney: “I will miss waking up every morning and being here at camp with this Weequahic family. This camp truly is a home away from home and it’s because of all of the wonderful people here.”
Camp: “Thank you so much Sidney! Jeremy, same questions for you. What brought you to camp?”
Jeremy (Senior Division): “Well this is my first summer here and what brought me to Weequahic was the fact that I really wanted to do something new, but also fun over the summer. After my first interview I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
Camp: “That’s great! And what has been your favorite part of this experience?”
Jeremy: “I would have to say interacting with all the campers. No two kids are alike, even siblings! You have to approach each one differently which I believe allowed me to grow as a person.”
Camp: “Wow, that’s amazing Jeremy. What have you learned from being here?”
Jeremy: “I’ve learned that attitude is everything. I came into this with an open mind and a positive attitude and it has been the best summer I’ve had in a long time.”
Camp: “We are so happy to hear that you have enjoyed your time here! Tell us what you will miss most when you leave?”
Jeremy: “I’ll definitely miss the campers and my fellow counselors. They are irreplaceable. I’ll miss my co-co’s because they have gone through this camp experience with me from start to finish and I wouldn’t trade a single one. I’ve built so many great relationships with the campers and their genuine happiness and joy for life gives me energy each day. The first few days without seeing their smiles or hearing their laughs will be pretty tough.”
Camp: “Thank you so much for sharing that with us!”
On behalf of all the counselors and staff members here at Weequahic, we would like to say thank you. Thank you for sending your kids have one of the best experiences of their lives here with us. Thank you for giving all of us a chance to be mentors to your children. We have all learned so much from every camper hear and have truly grown to admire the wonderful people they are growing up to be. It has been an amazing and memorable summer that we will always remember and we wish only the very best to each and every member of the Weequahic family this upcoming year.
Olympic session’s Color War is, for many campers, the highlight of their time here at Weequahic. It is the craziest, most memorable week they will have at camp. Color War is something campers look forward to all summer and is truly a bonding experience for everyone. For our CIT’s, however, Color War is the pinnacle of their time at CW. It rounds out the many years they have spent here and is the finishing touch to their experience as campers.
Color War is led by all the CIT’s, with the help of two counselors, and really gives them all a chance to show leadership, responsibility, team work, gratitude, attitude, and courage to our younger campers. Our CIT’s must show good sportsmanship and team spirit and really lift up their teammates and give them a reason to win.
During Color War, competitions include various sports, ceramics and woodworking and a CIT basketball game. Some camp favorites are tug of war, egg toss and bucket brigade. Apache, a similar competition to the Gitch (Tribal Wars), involves every team member in a giant relay race. Another fun event is marble call. Whenever a specific song is played over the intercom campers must run to the flag pole to put colored marbles in their buckets. This event is particularly funny because it can happen at any time.
On the final evening of Color War, we have sing night. Over the course of the week all the CIT’s practice for this event because it is a really special time when all of camp comes together to celebrate the summer we have all had together. Each team presents their plaque along with a skit. The CIT’s from each team then share their March, a song to celebrate their respective team, Memory, an Alma Mater from a previous summer, and Alma Mater, a song about their experience here at Weequahic.
Color War is a very special time at camp and is a wonderful chance for us to grow and become a closer community. It is a great opportunity for our CIT’s be true leaders and we know they will do a fantastic job. We want to wish everyone a fun and exciting Color War and cannot wait to see all our CIT’s in action!
Tomorrow is Wee-Excel Day; a special event day focusing on a camper’s program of choice. There are a wide range of activities for campers to choose from including Sports, the Arts, Adventure and “Olympic Prep.”
Some of our intensive sports camps include basketball, golf and roller hockey. Those campers wanting to play golf go to a local club where they get to play 9 holes on a challenging course. Our golfers love this opportunity because they really get to push themselves and see how much they have improved over the summer.
We also offer day long hikes for all age groups and our campers absolutely love the experience. Hikes are broken up by division and trails usually run for about 4 miles. The views are spectacular and campers get to cool down in falls that they pass along their route. After a long hike campers are treated to Jericho’s ice cream and feel refreshed upon their return to camp!
In preparation for our performance of Shrek, campers involved in the play have the entire day to practice their lines and songs, set designers can put their finishing touches on set pieces and the stage crew can work on lighting and cues. We also have a creative option for campers interested in activities such as scrapbooking, ceramics, photography, and painting. This gives campers a chance to paint any items they have made in ceramics or woodworking or make a book full of all the wonderful memories they have made here at camp.
In anticipation of Olympics, all our campers have been trying to guess when the breakout will happen. Olympics is a very exciting multi-day event that all our campers and counselors look forward to, so we have something called “Olympic Prep” for our older campers. These campers practice for certain events such as the hatchet hunt, grape tossing and counting to a minute (with a blindfold on). This gets all our campers super pumped up for Olympics breakout and is also a prime opportunity for our older campers to utilize their leadership skills on their respective team and help younger campers in their events when the time comes.
Wee-Excel Day is a wonderful opportunity for all our campers to dive into an activity they truly enjoy. Campers get to see the amount of improvement they’ve made over the course of the summer. It is also a time for them to use all the skills they have learned from counselors and fellow campers.