Posts Tagged ‘choosing a summer camp’

Siblings at Summer Camp

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

We are blessed to have a number of families at Camp Weequahic who entrust us with not only one but many (if not all) of their children. In fact, we have so many sets of siblings that we have had to expand to three photographers just to handle our annual Sibling Photo Shoot!

As parents of three very different boys ourselves, we know that finding the right camp for each can be a challenge both from both ‘right fit’ and ‘siblings getting along’ points of view. Thankfully, Camp Weequahic offers a great solution to both concerns.

Campers get to build their summer by choosing from over 60 different activities. As a coed camp, we thoughtfully plan our offerings so that it they are evenly split between activities girls and boys will find appealing.

During the program day, boys and girls do activities with other kids of the same gender and age group. In other words, when 5th grade girls are playing tennis, making a dress in fashion design or climbing our 50’ climbing tower, the 5th grade boys are at woodshop, basketball, or the waterfront. In our case, the competitive older and middle brothers play against other boys the same size and level which makes for a much more enjoyable experience for each.

With our activity schedule, most siblings will see very little of each other. However, there are ample opportunities for siblings to visit (or avoid) one another during the rest of our very full day at Weequahic,

First, we eat every meal together as a camp. While bunks sit together at each meal, siblings often get up to visit one another throughout the meals. Second, we have a camp wide free play time (supervised and unstructured) each evening before flag pole. This is another great time for siblings to check in with one another. And, finally, we have several evening activities and special events which involve the entire camp.

Parents love the fact that each of their children can build the perfect summer for their unique interests at Weequahic. Having the children taken care of in one spot while also providing the space each needs to grow and gain independence is a wonderful feeling.

New Year, New Summer

Monday, January 6th, 2014

There comes a point for everyone involved when we finally stop wishing for it to still be last summer and begin looking forward to this summer. The beginning of the new year is the perfect time for this. The new year is a time of new beginnings for most people and, although that long list of resolutions most of us start out with in January has already been all but forgotten by the time the first spring blooms begin to peep out of the ground, there is always the promise of camp. January starts that final countdown toward summer. We’re finally in the year 2014, and it is only a matter of months before we arrive at the Summer of 2014.  And a fast six months it always is! We spend cold winter evenings watching our camp videos or reading our camp newsletters. We attend camp reunions and follow our camp Facebook pages. By spring we’ve ordered all of our new camp gear and are eagerly awaiting for it to arrive.  We start to set goals for the summer with our camp friends. Then we blink, and it’s May. It’s time to start packing! School ends and the countdown is down to days…days that seem to take longer than all of the months we’ve waited put together. But it comes, the new summer of the new year, faster than we ever thought it would a year ago.

Explore Summer Camps in the off Season

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

We can hear the echoes of parents the world over now…’Start thinking about what?  Now?  We just finished filling out school paperwork!’  True.  Next summer is ten months away.  Trust us; we keep a countdown.  Newsflash:  summer camp enrollment is right around the corner.  In fact, for many camps, new camper enrollment is already underway.

Residential camp attendance is on the rise.  In fact, the American Camp Association reports a 21% increase in sleepaway camp enrollment over the past decade.  One would think this has summer camp directors all over the country jumping for joy—and it does.  But there is also a downside to the rising interest in summer camp.  As much as camp directors would like to offer an infinite amount of campers a place at their camps, facilities and programs have capacities, which means there are limitations to how many campers each camp can accommodate and still provide the best possible experience.  The solution for some camps is a waiting list.  Other camps simply stop taking inquiries after their open spots are filled.  For a lot of very popular premiere level summer camps, it means longer waiting lists for an already existing shortage of openings.  In other words, admission is competitive, and if you wait until the weather starts warming up to start thinking about registering for summer camp, you might find yourself in the cold.

Ideally, if you’re hoping to have a first time camper next summer, you’ve already short listed several camps that you think are the best fit for your child.  Maybe you’ve been avoiding making the final call because you prefer one camp while your child prefers another.  Maybe you’re just not sure your child is ready for sleepaway camp.  Maybe you still have a few questions before making it official.  Whatever the reason, now’s the time to pull out that short list and start narrowing down the candidates. Even if your child is looking forward to another summer of day camp, now is still a good time to start browsing the web and assembling a list of prospective camps.  Thanks to social media, you can follow camps throughout the year and get a feel for the camp’s community.  After all, you and your children are going to be a part of whichever one you choose for the next several years.  So it’s important to pick the one of which you think your family could feel most a part.

While reviewing social media outlets and the camp’s website, ask yourself:  How invested does the camp seem in its programs, facilities and families?  Who is the staff and how are they selected?  What is the camp’s policy about communication between campers and staff during the winter months?  These are very important questions that delve beyond the sparkling lake and impeccably manicured grounds shown on websites or camp videos.

Summer camps are more than the sum total of their promotional videos as well.  Use the opportunity to let social media help you get a better picture. You can easily determine parents’ as well campers’ attitudes toward a camp.  A strong online community that shows enthusiasm for camp throughout the year is a sure sign of happy camp families.

Once you start to consider the details of what will make you feel comfortable about sending your child off for several weeks or most of the summer, the easier it is to select a camp, and  the less likely you are to find yourselves on a waiting list because you quite literally missed your window of opportunity.

The “Special” Experience of Summer Camp

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Actress Jami Gertz, a summer camp alumni, once said, “There is something very special about being away from your parents for the first time, sleeping under the stars, hiking and canoeing.”  Although on the outset this seems like just another quote about summer camp, the use of the word “special” makes it standout.  “Special” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “distinguishable,” “superior,” or “of particular esteem.” Every camp, when planning the summer, strives to create an experience that sets it apart from other camps.  To those whose exposure to summer camp is limited to Hollywood’s interpretation of it, there may seem to be little that distinguishes one from another.  However, to those who attend or have attended summer camp, each one is unique from others.  For campers and staff alike, to think of the more than 12,000 summer camps throughout the United States as a collective summer experience is to think of all pizza as having the same flavor.  Sure the basic ingredients are the same.  Most pizza pies even look similar.  But, depending on which toppings you add, one pie might taste very different from another.  It’s that special flavor of each camp that gives it that “esteemed” place in the hearts of those who have called it their summer home.  Choosing a camp is more than simply deciding to send your child.  The values, traditions, activities, facilities, staff, and even the duration all play a role in deciding at which summer camp your child will find the most success.

In a couple of weeks, another summer will start, and thousands of young campers will taste summer camp for the first time.  They’ll spend their first night sleeping in a bunk/cabin with fellow new campers.  They’ll bond with favorite counselors.  They’ll try at least one activity for the first time.  They’ll make new friends, learn new songs, and, for the first time, experience life away from their parents.  As Jami Gertz said, it will be “special” as they begin gaining the independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence that are all-important ingredients in creating a life that is “distinguishable.”  Ultimately, however, the role that summer camp plays in the successes of the lives of campers as children and, as they mature, in helping former campers meet the challenges of adulthood does not simply come down to experience but also in the choice of summer camp.  So whether you’re just starting to consider summer camp, have begun searching for a camp, or will be one of the thousands of prospective families touring summer camps this year, be on the lookout for the right mix of ingredients that will create that “special” experience for your child.

Home Visits

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The air is getting cool, the leaves are starting to turn, and we’ve moved back to our winter office.  That means it is time to start seeing families interested in Camp Weequahic for Summer 2013!

It is no small thing to choose a sleep away camp for your family. And it is your family we focus on, not just the camper. Sure, the camper has to be excited about going to camp and having a great time whilst there. But, when all is said and done, it is the development of the relationship in which we partner with families to help raise their children for three or six weeks that represents the biggest piece of success for a family.

The best way to start is to meet face to face. Home visits normally take one hour and give everyone a chance to get to know one another.

We show a lot of great pictures from the previous summer, answer and ask a lot of questions, and hope to have some fun along the way.  At the end of the meeting, families should feel knowledgeable about:
– who the director is and the philosophy of the camp
– how staff are selected and trained and the director’s expectations of them throughout the summer
– the type of daily program and activities the camp offers
– how the camp deals with problem behavior when it occurs (because it will)
– how the camp differs from others in which you are interested for the coming summer

Just as importantly, you should leave the meeting feeling comfortable with your decision about whether or not to send your child to camp.  As camp directors, we are happy to help with as many questions as you’d like to ask – it’s a long winter and we have the time!

If you would like to set up a time to visit with Camp Weequahic, please feel free to call. We travel quite a bit around the country (and Europe!) and would be happy to see if a home visit would make sense for your family. (And, yes, cookies are always welcomed!)

Early Enrollment Open Until October 15

Friday, October 5th, 2012

We are pleased to offer our Summer 2013 camp families an early enrollment discount of $200 for enrolling by October 15th, 2012. In order to qualify, you must enroll online and pay the appropriate deposit ($1000 for Tribal or Olympic Session, $2000 for Super Six) by the closing date.

Based on the growth of the past several summers and our current 2013 enrollment, we expect our Tribal Session (Saturday, June 22 to Saturday, July 13) to fill quickly and our Olympic Session (Sunday, July 14 to Sunday, August 4) to be close to capacity.

Please contact Director Cole Kelly with any questions by calling 877.899.9695 or via email at cole@weequahic.com.

Camp Senses

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The unseasonably warm and pleasant weather seems to be bringing on summer faster.  The flowers are blooming, the birds are back, and the days are sunny. It’s hard not to take advantage of the opportunity to prematurely engage in all of one’s favorite summer activities a little bit.  The other day, my sisters and I caved.  We decided to rally my niece, go to the park and, yes, even though three of the four us fully qualify as grownups, play on the playground.  I’m convinced that no matter how old one gets, no one ever gets tired of swings.  It turns out that we weren’t the only ones with such an idea.  The place was packed, children and adults everywhere.  The park had even opened up the boating dock, something that they usually don’t do until Memorial Day Weekend.  People were out on the lake in rowboats and paddle boats.  They were picnicking.  They rode by on bicycles, skates and skateboards.  The comforting familiar smell of campfire from the nearby campground even permeated the air.   It was as if 2012 had transposed May and March.  My niece and I managed to score the last two remaining swings while my sisters preoccupied themselves on the monkey bars.

My niece and I have this game we play.  We see who can swing the highest.  The little boy between us apparently thought our game looked fun because he joined in.  As we slowed down for a bit after tiring ourselves out, he started a conversation.  I think he actually wanted to talk to my niece but decided I’d make a good mediator—at least in the beginning.   His name was Hunter.  What is her name?  Angelica.  How old is she?  She is six.  Same as me, he said.  What grade in she in?  First.  Same as me, he said again.  He jabbered on.  His dad had told him that if he was good they might rent a paddle boat later.  Maybe Angelica could come on the paddle boat with him.  He wished the concession stand was open so he could get ice cream.  Earlier in the day he’d gone to his swimming lesson at the JCC.  Then his mom signed him up for camp there this summer. I perked up.  Every now and then, chance throws a writer a bone and you have to grab it and run with it. Camp, huh? Do you stay overnight at this camp?  No, I’m not old enough.  I didn’t tell him that I already knew this.  The minimum age for most overnight camps is seven.  Is this your first time at the camp?  Yes, my sister went last year.  She said it’s really fun.  What do you think will be the most fun?  Ummm…I don’t know.  I don’t really know what we do there.  I bet you swim there.  Yeah, I think we do.  I worked at a camp.  You did?  Yep.  Only everyone stayed overnight at my camp.  His eyes grew.  They did? Yep.  I think I would like to do that someday.  Was it fun?  Yep.  What was it like there?  I looked around at the bicycles and the boats.  I took in the smell of campfire in the air and listened to the sound of all of the children playing and laughing.  It’s a lot like this.  I think I would like that, he said.  Hunter had no idea that he made my day and helped me out a lot by literally handing me material for a camp blog.  I hope he has fun at the JCC camp this year…and that he makes it to overnight camp someday.  If you haven’t thought about sending your children to camp, take a trip to your local park on a nice spring day.  Your senses just may help the decision become clear.

Now is the Time to Start Choosing a Summer Camp

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

The leaves are falling off the trees and the weather is starting to cool down, but it’s not too early to start thinking about sending your children to summer camp next summer.  There is certainly no shortage of American summer camps and finding the right one for your children is essential to their success there.  There’s a lot to think about, which makes now a great time to start thinking about what you want in a camp.

Traditional summer camps are a great way to introduce children to summer camp because they offer a broad and well-rounded experience.  Children still trying to find their niche in a sport or hobby find great success at these camps because they’re given opportunities throughout the summer to take part in many different types of activities.

The length of the summer camp you choose is also important.  Most overnight camps accept campers from the age of seven.  When considering camps, it’s key to consider your family’s lifestyle, your children’s other activities and commitments, and even your children themselves. Many embrace the traditional seven week experience because it removes the stress of trying to figure out how to keep children active and entertained during summer vacation.

Consider how far away from home you want your child to travel as well.  Some parents prefer to send their children to a summer camp within a few hours of home while others view summer camp as a way to introduce a global perspective to their children and send them abroad to attend summer camp.  This is particularly becoming a trend in Europe, where European parents are deciding that they’d like their children to experience traditional American summer camps.  However, increasingly, parents from all over the world are making this decision as well.  Many American parents find the amazing reputations, beautiful campuses, and the breathtaking scenery of Northeast Pennsylvania idyllic and send their children from as far away as California, Florida, and many other states.

The structure of a camp’s program should be given careful consideration as well.  Campers like to make decisions about their daily activities at camp, and Camp Weequahic gives them the opportunity to do so.  Our program is a choice program that allows campers to choose their activities each day.

Once you have decided what type of camp, length, location, and program are right for your child, you will likely find your search narrowed to a manageable number of camps.  Since you are reading this blog, you have found Camp Weequahic’s website and are on the right track.  We also invite you to check out our Facebook page, and sign up to follow our Twitter feed.  By doing this now, you will give yourself plenty of time to watch, read, and listen.  If you are unfamiliar with camp, you will be pleasantly surprised at how active our summer camp community remains throughout the winter.  In fact, many Starlight families will tell you that camp never really ends for them—and that’s a good thing!

What is ACA Accreditation?

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

The American Camp Association (ACA) is the parent organization of American Summer Camps.  The most reputable American summer camps voluntarily adhere to standards set by the ACA and, in search of accreditation, undergo a thorough evaluation process every three years during which their processes, facilities, emergency plans, staff training, and operations are very carefully scrutinized and then scored.  Based on their scores, summer camps either receive accreditation from the ACA or are told what they must improve in order to be accredited.

The ACA accreditation is no small feat and receiving it requires a tremendous amount of meticulous effort on behalf of summer camps.  However, it’s worth the reward.  ACA accreditation elevates a camp’s reputation and credibility to other camps.  However, more importantly, parents thinking of sending their children to camp should be concerned about ACA accreditation.  ACA accreditation provides that extra peace of mind that the summer camp you’ve chosen for your child goes that extra mile to insure that everything they do—and how they do it—is nothing short of top notch.

For all four of America’s Finest Summer Camps, merely meeting the minimum guidelines for accreditation is unacceptable.  We strive to meet and exceed all expectations of the parents who choose to send their children to one of our camps.  For us, “premier” isn’t merely a title given to a great camp, it’s a state of mind.  We are proud to be the best and offer the best.  As such, we never stop preparing for standards.  We do not simply breathe a sigh of relief and spend the next couple of years resting after the ACA pays its bi-annual visit.  We’re constantly updating policies, improving and maintaining our facilities, re-evaluating our current procedures for best practices, and working to be nothing short of excellent.