We are all pretty good at hearing things. As I write this, I can here my neighbor’s mower, Mac barking at a squirrel in the yard (again), and Mr. Nichols typing away on his computer. But, while I hear those different noises, I’m not listening to them. In fact, I’m doing my best to listen to my own voice as I write this short Friday night Campfire idea for you all.
Most of the time, when we listen, we are spending more time preparing what to say rather than truly understanding what the person in front of us is saying. In this fall of a Presidential campaign, there is a lot of responding and not a whole lot of understanding. And, I think, that’s a problem. A ‘YUGE’ one.
We all have the challenge of being a little ‘too long on mouth’ and ‘too short on ears.’ They do outnumber the mouth, you know. In fact, I’d even add the eyes to the mouth as listening instruments since 80% of communication is body language. What does that mean? Well… we should all listen a lot more than we talk.
Have you ever been around a really great listener? They make a difference to you. You leave their presence being more comfortable, attended to, valuable, and jazzed up. It’s such a big effect, some companies test applicants by putting them in a room with a bunch of other applicants and tell to speak about whatever they’d like. The company then hires those who show themselves the best listeners.
We do something similar in our interview process for staff and a lot of that during orientation. Our staff give up their personal time to listen to our campers. And, they are listening both with their ears and their eyes. So many times, our staff will pull one of us aside and say something like “could you keep an eye on….” That means, while things might seem great, they are concerned about a camper. Listening a campers body language and interpreting it is one of the most important skills a camp counselor can develop.
Sometimes, with great friends, not saying a word and just being together is all that needs to be said. We see that (sometimes) at camp. Most of the time, our campers and staff can’t stop talking and laughing with one another. But, every now and then, just being with one another is enough.
I’ve seen our campers sit quietly next to buddies at campfire or reading next to each other on their bunk porch before bed. In fact, I’ve had some of the best talks in my life with a friend on the basketball court when very few words were spoken but so much was said. That’s camp!
Back in the world, though, with all its distracti….
Oops, sorry, I just got a text….
As I was saying, back in the wor….
Sorry – another text…. Annoying, isn’t it?
When we are really listening to someone, the distractions may be heard but should never take our attention away from the speaker. It’s a skill that takes practice and one that is very important to develop. If you want to be a good friend, a good camp counselor, a good student, etc., learn to listen. It’s more than worth the trouble for you and those around you.
Life at camp centers around the core values of friendship, family, and tradition — and the international camp experience is no exception.
Whether campers come from abroad to experience American culture or come from local areas to experience the international camp lifestyle, summer camp has something to offer to everyone when it comes to experiencing a new culture. (And having a blast playing sports, singing around the campfire, and playing around on the lake of course!)
Values in common
International campers may come from countries as diverse as England, France, Spain, Italy, China, Korea and many more, but they all come to camp for the same thing: a traditional American experience that they’ll never forget.
International camp counselors place an emphasis on learning to appreciate the things that are different about the various cultures that arrive at camp, but they also place an emphasis on the things we all have in common.
We all love family. We all love to laugh. And the first time singing around the campfire is magical for everybody — no matter whether they’ve seen a campfire, marshmallows, or fireflies before.
Fun: the universal language
While English is the common ground for international campers, it’s always fun when campers are able to experience a new language, or even find someone who shares their mother tongue to joke around with. “Oh, you speak Spanish too!”
Something that draws many international campers all the way to North America is the promise of a traditional American experience… but of course once they’re here, the cultural exchange goes both ways!
When it comes to American traditions, it’s hard to find something more quintessential and unique than summer camp. From raising the flag in the morning to singing goofy songs around the dining hall at dinner, what seems normal and routine to returning American campers is exotic and fascinating to campers from Europe and Asia!
Thanks to the amazing community of counselors and decades of tradition, no international camper returns home without a few amazing stories to tell.
Campers with culture!
Friendship knows no borders. As connected as the modern world is, it’s surprisingly easy to remain out of touch with peers from other cultures.
International camp gives young people the chance to reach out and make contact with new friends from places they might not otherwise even think about — expanding the horizons of every single camper that participates in an international camp.
Passport to fun times
Whether you make new friends overseas, have a fun time guessing each other’s accents, or just learn a word or two in Spanish of Italian, international camp makes incredible memories for everyone that comes out to partake in the camp lifestyle.
…You may not need a passport to get here, but you’re guaranteed to have an international experience!
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!
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!
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.
Summer camp means getting out on the lake, and getting out on the lake means: wakeboarding!
Wakeboarding is a favorite for many campers, providing tons of adrenaline and fun in a super safe environment. (After all, the worst that can happen is you fall in the lake… and campers are constantly doing that on purpose anyway!)
The only tricky part about wakeboarding is remembering everything you learned the year before. Like any seasonal activity, staying in practice year-round is pretty difficult. (Unless you live somewhere with warm winters and happen to have a boat and lake at your disposal, that is!)
So how can you practice at home so you’re in top form when it’s your turn to hit the lake?
We’ve gathered some of the best ways to stay on top of your wakeboarding game. Get ready to impress your camp friends when they see how many tricks you can do!
Note: as with any sport or fitness activity, always wear safety equipment, stay within your limits, and only practice with a qualified instructor to keep everything safe and fun.
1. Practice your board skills with snowboarding or skateboarding
The hardest part of wakeboarding can be simply balancing on the board. Luckily, snowboarding and skateboarding both build similar skills, so if you can get out on the slopes or make it down to the local skate park, you can practice your balance all year round!
The best part is that both sports are super fun in their own right — and they’ll make sure you have killer board handling skills by the time summer camp rolls around.
You can also consider using a balance board, which gives some of the same advantages as a skateboard without requiring you to leave your room or the gym. You could even watch Netflix while you practice!
2. Improve your balance by adding exercises to your routine
If you already have a stretching or workout routine that you follow at least once a week, consider adding some balance-focussed exercises to the mix! Exercises that improve your balance are surprisingly simple: practice balancing on one leg for 30+ seconds, then build up to hopping on one foot, and doing one-legged squats and lunges.
Pro tip: closing your eyes makes these exercises twice as hard, but will have huge rewards when you get on the board.
3. Study up on YouTube
When it comes to learning specific tricks, YouTube is your best friend. Instructors all over the world have videos you can watch for free that break down each trick into step-by-step challenges, and you can play them over and over until you’ve got a handle on the mechanics of the trick.
4. Trampoline time!
Yup, wakeboarding is your excuse to play around on the school trampoline!
A trampoline is surprisingly effective at simulating the wakeboarding experience, and gives you a chance to practice a tricky move over… and over… and over again, until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to give it a shot on the lake.
Plus, jumping on a trampoline is just plain fun!
Success comes to those who expect it, and summer camp activities are no different. If you’re excited about another fun season of wakeboarding, go ahead and let yourself get stoked about it!
Visualize yourself doing the tricks you enjoy, and practice them mentally while doing less exciting activities (like sorting your clothes, for example). How did it feel to grind that steep wake? How did it feel to land that spin?
Summer is always right around the corner, and it’ll be time to get out on the lake again before you know it. Can’t wait to see you there — be ready for some serious watersport fun!
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!
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.
We talk a lot about choosing our attitude at Camp Weequahic. It is one of our three building block values and something that comes up daily for both our campers and staff members. Our attitude remains the only thing we have complete control of and it has an enormous impact on both ourselves and those around us.
In fact, a positive attitude is at the heart of the Happiness Advantage.
This is a phrase coined by Shawn Achor, a researcher and teacher in the world of positive psychology. Dr. Achor’s findings basically say that when you employ a more positive outlook, you are subsequently more intelligent, creative, resilient, and better a lots of things from studies to sales.
In other words, by choosing a positive attitude, you give yourself the best opportunity to be happier and more productive. But, sometimes choosing that attitude is difficult, especially if we are surrounded by those who do not think as we do.
So, how do we become more positive? Dr. Achor suggests doing the following over 21 consecutive days:
Pick three new things you are grateful for from that day and share them with a loved one
Write in a journal about one really positive experience you’ve enjoyed over the past 24 hours
Take a few moments each day to relax and think calmly about your breath
This reminds your brain that it can overcome obstacles
Practice one act of random or conscious kindness. Send someone a ‘thank you’ email or text for something specific. Help out at a shelter. Do anything as long as it is an expression of kindness
These are all practices that we enjoy at Camp Weequahic. We talk about the best things from your day before going to bed, we write letters home about the great stuff we’ve enjoyed, we take a moment at campfire each Friday night to simply ‘be’, we are on the receiving and giving ends of making people laugh each day. And, while no one would call it ‘exercise’, we certainly burn our calories….
It’s easy to remain positive at camp because everyone around you is focused on the same things and supportive of this idea. It may be a bit harder at school when competition can get in the way. So, take a moment each day and practice. (And, if you need to, just remember camp is a few shorts months away!)
If you like a good, gooey brownie, this may be for you. While our campers enjoy cooking all types of meals in Top Chef, these brownies have certainly become a camper (and camp director) favorite. Give them a try at your home but be careful – they are addictive!
Triple Threat Brownies
Ingredients for the Chocolate Chip Layer
1 cup of butter
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups of flower
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp of hot water
½ tsp of kosher salt
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
Ingredients for the Marshmellow or Oreo Layer
10 marshmellows or 10 oreos
Ingredients for the Brownie layer:
½ cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of Vanilla extract
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
½ cup flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp baking powder
Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add the
eggs one by one and stir in the vanilla.
Dissolve the baking soda in hot water and add to the batter with salt. Finally
add the flour and chocolate chips.
Spread the batter on an 8”x8” brownie pan or pyrex dish*
Marshmallow or Oreo Layer:
￼￼￼Cut the marshmallows or Oreos in half and push over the cookie batter.
Cream the butter with the sugar and add the egg.
Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to the batter.
Spread on top of the cookie marshmallow.
Bake all together at 350 F degrees for 40-45 minutes.
*This recipe can also be made in muffin tins. You’ll need to cut down the cooking time, though!