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.
At Weequahic, we ask our campers. Sometimes, they are straight up questions like “What evening activity are you excited about?” or “How do you like the meals?” or “What activity do you want to add to your schedule?”
Other questions come in the form of challenges such as “How will your team get a person from the dock to the beach using cardboard and duct tape?”, “Do you think that steak is done?”, or “How amazing can you make up the guys for Ms. Weequahic?”
My favorite evening of questions involves Weequahic’s oldest campers and their counselors. After a great evening snack, we sit around the campfire while I ask our young men “Who is the best man that you know?” and our young ladies “What choices are you going to make in your life?” The discussion that follows both questions is always engaging and interesting.
Those are just some of the questions we ask at camp. But our time at Weequahic lasts only six weeks each year. That leaves forty-six weeks to enjoy in the world before returning our summer home. So, when you are back in the world, what questions do you ask yourself?
The normal questions students ask themselves are pretty similar and widespread: What college should I go to? Will I make the team? What will make me happy? How much money can I make? What is my passion? What do I want out of life?
The problem with these questions is that they keep your focus solely on yourself. I don’t know about you, but the learning I get from just me is pretty limited… ok, it’s incredibly limited! In order to learn and improve, I’ve got to be connected with others and get some real experience.
Dr. Tim Elmore suggests we replace the ‘normal’ questions with different ones. What problem do I want to solve? How can I add value? What are the needs or opportunities around me? What do I have to give? And, what is life asking of me?
These questions keep us focused on those around us and their answers provide a clearer personal path ahead both in the short and the long term.
So, take a few moments back home to imagine yourself around the campfire with your closest friends. The sun is setting over Main Campus, the fish nip at the water from time to time, and you can hear the crackle of the wood as it lights our faces. Once you are in that place, ask yourself a question….
Your dirty camp laundry might still be in a pile waiting to be washed, and you’re already counting down the days until next summer so you can get back to camp!
If you’re already planning and excited about next summer, you’re not alone. You’re one of the many campers who make going away to camp a part of their summer experience year after year. Here are 8 reasons why you’re already looking forward to summer 2017:
You get to see old friends- When asked, most campers say seeing old friends is the #1 reason they are excited to get back to camp. Social media, texting, emails and phone calls throughout the year are great, but there is nothing like after a busy school year reconnecting with old friends!
Campfires- there is something about the singing crickets, the crackling of the fire, good friends all around, S’mores on the fire, and those whacky, silly campfire songs that make summer camp so much fun.
Outdoor Adventures- more than likely, you don’t live in a place where you can easily access an impressive ropes course or mountain biking trails, or the chance to go camping in the mountains. At camp, you have access to all of these adventures just steps from your cabin.
Freedom- You’ve worked so hard all year to get good grades, contribute around the house, participate in sports and other afterschool activities, that summer camp is a nice break from all of those responsibilities. At camp, you’re free to relax!
Special Events- from pool parties and talent shows, to laser tag and MTV night, campers are always excited about special events! You never really know what to expect with these special events, all you know is that it’s going to be awesome and it’ll be a night you won’t soon forget!
Reconnecting with Nature- when you leave camp, it can feel kind of weird to spend the next few months sitting in a classroom, or coming home to sit and play video games. Camp gives you a new appreciation for the outdoors, and being outside all of the time becomes a part of who you are. Many campers are excited to breathe the fresh mountain air, cannonball into the refreshing lake, and experience quiet time with nature throughout camp.
The Food- Even at the best schools, cafeteria food is still cafeteria food, and can get boring after a while. Thankfully, coming to camp means you have a wide variety of food options to choose from, and all of it is delicious! Remember the breakfast sandwiches? Remember the ice cream sundaes? Remember the cookouts? Healthy and delicious options are always available for bust, hungry campers!
The Traditions- if next summer will be your first summer as a repeat camper, you have something really exciting waiting for you! Your time as the new camper is over, and now you’re a P-R-O! You already have a hang of the traditions, the rituals, the songs and customs that happen at camp. You now have the opportunity to teach the new campers! If this is your third or fourth summer returning to camp, you know that even though there are some things that stay the same, every camp experience is new and different and exciting!
It’s not too early to start counting down the days until summer 2017. It’ll be here before you know it, and you’ll be packing your bags and heading back to one of your favorite places on the planet. There is so much to look forward to, and these are just SOME of the many reasons kids are already so excited to get back to camp! Why are you pumped about getting back to camp?
Camp life may thrive on variety, but the traditional evening campfire has remained constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a campfire brings back a flood of memories for many summer campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome, and a time when all there was to worry about was playing games and growing stronger. Nothing captures the spirit of the summer camp experience quite like the snap-crackle-pop of the hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames.
A day at camp is often hectic and wild, and the evening campfire offers everybody a chance to wind down. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without it. After all, the traditional evening campfire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night; gathering around the fire represents community, the circle of life, and togetherness with friends new and old.
Fire has been a life source for all of recorded history, from the first ancient person to rub two sticks together to the diligent camper wielding flint and tinder. For all that time, friends and family have gathered around the fire to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. (or s’mores, as the case may be!)
Building a fire with only matches, kindling and elbow grease is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, or flashlights, or flashlight apps on your smartphone.
Experiencing a campfire, and perhaps even starting one yourself, is a taste of independence for campers, for whom camp is the one of many steps towards independence and self-sufficiency.
Another thing campfires represent is a time for winding down through songs, skits, and theatrical games. Charades is never as funny as just before bedtime, when your best friend is dancing and gesturing desperately to get everybody to guess the right word. Even if you’re feeling tired after a long day of activities, you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight. Just watch out for all the camp-related inside jokes!
And of course no mention of campfires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. (“Hey, Burritos!” anybody?) Legend has it that there are campers out there who know so many verses of “The green grass grows all around” that it would take a whole day just to sing it from start to finish. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.
…And of course we can’t forget s’mores!
One part of the fire nobody wants to miss: s’more time! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes hard work and commitment. (Thankfully, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and truth be told some folks prefer to let them catch fire for a crispy flavor!)
Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe — I for one appreciate homemade chocolate chip cookies — roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring campfire is something nobody forgets.
Plus, it’s just the right amount of sugar to keep you awake for the closing songs, but not so awake that you have trouble drifting into peaceful dreams after lights out!
It was midway through the fifth week of summer camp that I suddenly realized I didn’t know what day it was.
…Or what week it was.
And you know what the craziest part is? That didn’t make me feel stressed at all! On the contrary, I hadn’t been so happy for months.
After all, who has time to balance a calendar when you’re spending all day and night away from the computer, playing games in the sun and making new friends?
Summer camp has a way of making you “live in the moment” — so much so that losing track of time is totally normal. In fact, it’s pretty much expected by campers and counselors alike.
After a long school year of classes and homework and tests, let me tell you: it’s an incredible feeling to just let it all go.
“Live in the moment” may be a common piece of advice, but truth be told it’s a difficult nugget of wisdom to follow without practice. Back home, the phone was always ringing, the deadlines were always looming, and the stakes always felt high. It wasn’t until I started spending my summers at camp that I started to understand what “living in the moment” really meant.
…It didn’t mean throwing my phone in the lake, or not worrying about grades. It meant simply being okay with my best try — and to keep my mind on the task at hand, rather than always worrying about the next one.
Camp is the perfect place to practice living in the moment, because there is simply less to worry about. In fact, living in the moment is pretty much the default at camp. There simply isn’t much to worry about, and it’s hard to think about the past or future when the present is packed with activities, sports, campfires, and all the rest.
So you see, losing track of time at summer camp is pretty understandable!
However, that isn’t to say that anybody is disorganized. Far from it; if anything, camp will improve your time management skills and help you get used to staying on schedule. The big difference is that everybody is in it together, and it’s not the end of the world if somebody is late once in awhile. Nothing encourages being on time quite like the thing you’re rushing to get to being a ton of fun!
There were many days that I spent on my feet running around for 12-15 hours straight, and yet it always felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The saying that “time is relative” is definitely accurate at summer camp. If time is crawling during an SAT prep test, then it’s flying when you’re at camp, taking a first shot at wakeboarding!
Honestly, the only calendar any of us worried about was the end of camp, when we’d all have to pack up our things and embark on our journeys back home. Leaving camp is always bittersweet, but we all left with a profound new outlook on life. We had learned what it truly meant to “live in the moment,” and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. Thank you camp!
Summer camp is already super fun. So as you can probably imagine, adding international campers and counselors to the mix turns up the fun-dial even higher!
…But international camp isn’t just the same camp activities and friendships with a few exotic accents thrown into the mix. The secret sauce that makes international camp so special to returning campers is the chance to learn something about people who are truly “different” — and learn something about themselves in the process.
1. Difference is the spice of life
Everyone is different and special in their own way — at international camp, they’re just a little more different! Meeting peers from other countries and finding common ground with campers from the other side of the world teaches international campers to value differences.
After all, no one wants to be around people who are exactly like themselves all the time! Learning to appreciate different cultures helps international campers grow into curious, tolerant, and fun-loving world citizens.
2. Communication is everything
Is talking about communication redundant? We sure hope not, because workshopping camper communications skills is a huge part of the leadership programming out here at camp! International camp is a chance for campers to put their communication skills to the test.
Especially when all the campers come from different cultures with separate languages, finding common ground and making oneself understood can become a challenge; every international camper learns the rewards of sharing a part of yourself with someone completely different.
3. Meaningful friendships
Friendship is at the core of the camp experience, and it’s what keeps campers returning year after year.
“Who’s going to be in my group this year?”
“Where will they come from, and what will they be like?”
Questions like these are at the top of any young summer camper’s mind.
…The best part is, once the summer ends, international campers return home with pen pals from every corner of the globe. Who knows — maybe you’ll even go visit some of your new friends in France, China, and Spain some day soon!
4. Tolerance is the international passport
In a world that’s more connected every day, learning to be tolerant of those who are different from you is an important lesson for everyone to learn — not just summer campers.
International campers learn first-hand how the differences between cultures can be fun and interesting rather than intimidating or alienating. Bridging cultures is the name of the game at international camp.
5. Curiosity is key
International campers know that the secret to making friends is to always be curious. Instead of assuming things about people from different cultures, international campers simply ask.
When it comes to making friends with campers from other countries, listening with a curious ear is the easiest path to a fun summer. Who knows what you might learn!
Always open to new experiences
The world is an adventurous place full of fun and opportunity for those who know where to look. International camp is an excellent first step, teaching campers not just the exciting things the world has to offer, but an appreciation for the things that make their own culture unique and interesting.
Every country in the world seems exotic from someone’s perspective — for international campers, the world is one big family!
When you hear the words “summer camp,” you probably think of three things right away: campfires, friendship — and nature.
Without any of these essential elements, camp just wouldn’t be the same. Spending much-needed “digital detox” time in the woods is what brings many of us back year after year, so it’s no surprise that hiking in the natural areas around Camp Weequahic is one of the most popular activities each summer!
There’s nothing like fresh mountain air to remind us of the things that matter in life.
The healing power of nature
Hiking is a serious workout, but it isn’t just about “building character.” Life on the trail has many proven emotional and health benefits that make it a wonderful way for campers and counselors alike to pass the afternoon.
For example: did you know the average person only walks half as much as doctors recommend for a healthy lifestyle?
This is particularly unfortunate for kids, many of whom aren’t spending nearly enough time outside. Aside from missing out on the emotional benefits of sunshine and endorphins, it’s no mystery to parents that time spent in front of iPads and Playstations is rarely time well-spent.
Needless to say, everyone gets in plenty of exercise out of an afternoon in the woods!
Connecting with the natural world
But it isn’t the health benefits of hiking that get campers excited about getting out on the trail. Quite the opposite: in the high-energy world of camp sports and games, hiking is a perfect slow-down time.
New friends can use the time to talk and get to know one another, and others can use the time to “zen out” with the forest and enjoy the experience of being out in the wild.
With so many campers coming from urban and suburban areas, time spent hiking around Camp Weequahic may be a first-time experience with the peace and quiet of the woodlands!
The journey is the destination
Like all the activities at summer camp, hiking contains many lessons that strike to the core of what the camp experience is all about.
Most importantly, campers are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination. The summit may be spectacular, but the best part of hiking come from the camaraderie and togetherness of tackling the trail — and the pure value of experiencing the great outdoors.
Life is like a trail, and every journey begins with a single step. Whatever your dream may be, it’s waiting for you at the top of the mountain. The journey may be long… but there’s no reason to make it alone! Stick with your camp friends and you’ll be there before you know it!
If 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.
Friendship bracelets and summer camp go together like… well, summer camp and friendship bracelets!
Saying goodbye is always bittersweet. Colorful handmade bracelets and anklets keep the campfire vibes alive through the winter months — the more sun-faded, the better.
So far as supplies go you only need three things to get started:
colorful embroidery floss
beads (optional: for flair)
There are dozens of different styles when it comes to friendship bracelets. Here are a few of the tried-and-true classics that every summer camper should learn!
The Classic Braid
The classic braid is the go-to standard of friendship bracelets. If you can braid hair, you already basically know how to make one. If you don’t… well, read on!
Start by cutting three pieces of embroidery floss. How long? Well, measure around your wrist, and add an inch or two for beginning and closing knots. Consider using more than one color to give the bracelet some personality!
Tie the three pieces together at one end and begin braiding the floss. You can pin the end down with a clothespin if that helps keep you steady. As for how to braid, just follow the steps in the image below and repeat until you reach the end of the floss:
Once you reach the bottom, just tie the loose ends with any knot that strikes your fancy.
Now the only task left is finding a friend and helping each other tie them around your wrists! See you next year — pinkie promise.
The Fishtail is similar to the Classic Braid, but with a few twists that make it a little trickier to pull off. The final result is a little chunkier than the Classic Braid, adding some variety to your styles if you happen to be wearing more than a few. (If you’re a lifelong camper, we’re sure you are.)
But don’t worry; if you can tie a fishtail braid in your hair, tying a Fishtail bracelet should be no problem!
To begin, select about a dozen different colors of embroidery floss and cut them to length, just as with the Braid above. Tie them all together at one end, and braid following his pattern until you get to the end:
Tie the end and slip in a few beads if you’re feeling inspired — case closed!
If you can master the Classic Braid and Fishtail, get ready for your final challenge: the Knotted Bracelet! It’s a little trickier than the others, so be sure to pay close attention; especially for the beginning and end, when you’re measuring out the “clasp” part of the bracelet.
Ughhhh….Camp is over and of course, NOW summer is over too! This stinks! I mean being back home is kind of a buzz kill. School’s no fun, homework’s lame and dealing with my little bro is like, BRUTAL! All I can think about is how much fun I had away from here, with all my friends and so many awesome things to do!
But the reality is, I’m stuck here for 9 more months, until I can go back to camp. So I asked my Mom, if we could make some real camp food – you know, to bring me back! I figured she’d be game, since she says she needs new ideas and gets tired of making the same stuff over and over again. So we’re bringing camp home YO! How cool is that? Check out the recipes below, for some yummy goodness you can make at home. You gettin’ me? Oh, and no campfire needed!
HOBO DINNERS – makes 4 servings
1 pk. – Ground beef
2 TBS. – Olive oil
Dash – Salt and pepper
3 – Potatoes
2 med. – Red eppers
2 med. – Tomatoes
1 – Yellow Onion
½ c. – Salsa
4-6 – tortillas
Tear off four squares of tin foil, lay each one out and portion out ¼ cup of ground beef, dash of salt and pepper and 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil for each. Then personalize it! Chop up the vegetables and add the ones you like to your Hobo dinner and add a little salsa. Fold up each tin foild square and bake at 350 degrees, on the middle oven rack for 45 minutes. Whala!! Eat it right out of the foil pouch or scoop all the ingredients into a tortilla. Now this is chow! Yum!
TACOS IN A BAG – makes 4 servings
4 – individual bags of tortilla chips
1 lb. pk – grass fed hamburger
¼ c. – taco seasoning mix
1/8 c. – water
½ c. – salsa
½ c. – tofu sour cream
Brown the hamburger until well cooked. Drain. Add in the taco seasoning and water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Crunch each bag of tortilla chips. Add hamburger, salsa lettuce and sour cream to each tortilla chip packet. Crunch with a fork and munch! It’s so easy it’s cray, cray!
SMORES DIP – makes 4 servings
1 pkg. – chocolate chips
1 pkg. – large marshmallows
2 pkgs. – graham crackers for dipping
Pour the chocolate chips in an 8 X 8 pan. Set large marshmallows on end, covering the chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes or until melted. Serve with graham crackers. Dig in and dip away!
CAMPFIRE CONES – makes 4 servings
4 – waffle or sugar ice cream cones
1 c. – marshmallows
1 – banana
1 c. – chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Fill each cone with as much bananas, chocolate chips and marshmallows as you want. Wrap each cone in aluminum foil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Unwrap and grub down!