Summer camp is a fun and exciting experience and time simply flies by. There are several things and activities to do, which makes it impossible not to miss some of them. However, it doesn’t matter how chaotic, busy, or crazy things get, there are a few things that will always remind you about camp:
1. Arts & Crafts
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), Arts and Crafts is amongst the five most popular activities at summer camp, and why wouldn’t it? Kids simply love spending a part of their day in a place filled with glitter, paint, scissors, beads, and other craft items. With arts and craft, the possibilities are endless, as the atmosphere not only gives campers the opportunity to relax, reflect, use their creative side and time to socialize with fellow campers and friends.
A campfire is a mainstay at every camp. The activities, songs and traditions differ from camp to camp. However, one thing remains consistent and that’s the sacred relevance the campfire holds. The fire symbolizes camp life, and the odor of burning wood serves as a reminder of picturesque settings where camps are situated.
3. Sing Alongs
Karaoke may be a popular activity for a get-together, but, when it comes to summer camps, there is nothing more melodious than the whole camp singing tunes together. The sing-along are not just about singing songs together, it’s a way of bringing each and everyone together to celebrate the thing which has brought everybody together as one, and that thing is camp.
A summer is incomplete without s’mores. And besides, it’s quite hard to resist the pleasure of melted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two crackers. Just one bite is enough to bring instant memories of camp.
Now, you might get thinking that what’s so special about bunks. Well, they are much more than places where counselors and campers sleep. It’s where everyone becomes families, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.
6. Bugle Calls
Bugle Calls guide campers through their day at camp. It doesn’t matter if they are bells or bugles only one sound is enough for campers to know what they have to do. Whether it’s showing up for waterskiing, tennis, or even closing the lights at nighttime, these sounds will let campers know about everything.
7. Crazy Wardrobe Preferences
Camp is perhaps the only place where you will get complemented for wearing bright colors, body paint, hats, wigs and other funny clothing to a camp function. Funny isn’t it? But, it’s an experience that will always bring back good memories.
Things every camper should bring to camp to ensure an amazing summer:
This classified, top secret, limited edition guide to doing the perfect cannonball.
As the summer temperatures peak, most campers find themselves lounging around the beautiful swimming pool at Camp Weequahic, or splashing the day away in the lake. Hanging out in the water is a great way to beat the heat, while hanging out with new friends and making memories that will last forever. When it is time to make things a little more exciting, initiate a camp wide Cannonball contest! Equipped with these researched, tested and proven tips, you can leave camp as this year’s Cannonball Champion.
First, it is important to remember that safety is always of the utmost importance. Remember to always check the depth of the water where you are going to jump. Jumping into water that is too shallow could cause serious injury. If the cannonball contest is taking place on the pool deck, remember not to run. You could slip and fall, and then you’d never get to show off your cannonball skills. You can achieve a perfect 10 cannonball without running and jeopardizing your safety.
Get Some Height: If there is a diving board, use that bad boy to get some extra height and land with a splash. The simple logic behind the perfect cannonball is that the higher you go, the more gravity you have to pull you back into the water with a splash.
Loosen Up: Many believe that the perfect cannonball is created when you fold yourself into a tight, round ball. This is actually not the case. The more area you take up when you hit the water, the bigger the splash. To accomplish this, wrap your arms around your legs, but keep your elbows out to the side, don’t pin them tightly to your body. Remember to keep your form loose and focus on taking up as much space when you land as possible.
The Landing: You loose a lot of splash potential when the bottom of your feet are the first thing to hit the water. If you angle backwards a little bit, your bottom should be the first thing to touch the water. To avoid a knee vs. head accident, keep your knees slightly apart so the force of the impact doesn’t cause your knees to come up and hit you in the nose. Remember to keep your head up so you can see the faces of everyone who is in awe of your perfect cannonball style. Don’t be surprised if there is a line of campers waiting for you when you emerge from the water who want to learn a thing or two from the cannonball master.
Do you know the history of camping? Most people don’t and it is too bad. It’s an interesting story and I’m happy to give you my take on it.
Back in the early 1900’s, several individuals and families, seeing the swelling slums in the northeastern cities, began to think of ways to get kids back to nature. Striking out from New York and Boston, these camp pioneers found pieces of land with lakes, trees, clean air, and a lot of space on which to build the first ‘residential camps’ in the US.
Mostly school teachers and coaches, these early camp leaders built relationships with families who chose to send their children to camp. The founding purpose of camp was to provide an environment of wholesome activity in which the values of independence, teamwork, gratitude, and community were transmitted, both overtly and subtly, to children.
Looking back at over 100 years of organized camping, I think these early professionals were on to something. Camping is nolonger just for children from the northeastern major metro areas, though they still make up a large proportion of campers. Camp has spread across the country and world and now is a big part of lots of peoples’ lives.
There are a lot of reasons why camping has thrived over the years. The main reasons, at least in my opinion, are the relationships built between campers and the staff at camp, being a part of something special, and the skills (physical, psychological, and emotional) that are developed. When you combine value-driven adults who are eager to lead with campers excited to learn, grow, and build new friendships, you’ve got an incredible start for creating a remarkable camp experience.
You may have heard the Weequahic directors and year round staff were college athletes. It’s true. Well, Cole played golf at Virginia, so he was almost an athlete! Between the four of us, we’ve coached baseball, soccer, and golf at the NCAA Division 1 level for more than 20 years.
So, Weequahic must be a pretty competitive place, right?
Our focus is activity and skill development, rather than outcome. Competition is a wonderful tool for developing teamwork, community, and communication. It also helps determine areas for improvement. In essence, when done correctly, a little competition can really help a camper.
Weequahic is a part of the Wayne County Camp Association. Among its other duties, the WCCA organizes tournaments throughout the summer for our 31 associated camps in almost all of our activities. From swim and track meets to flag football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and lax games, we have just about anything a camper could want. We will even take campers to local USTA tennis tournaments so they can compete with kids from all over our region. While we have fun with a little competition, we are BIGGER believers in fun, skill development, and play.
If a camper wants to play on one of our teams, he or she simply needs to raise a hand and say ‘I want to be on the team.’ Once campers commit, they are good to go, regardless of their skill level. And, as long as they are supportive of their teammates and putting forth their best effort, they’ll play!
With one exception, we do not have tryouts at Weequahic. We require tryouts for tennis only because league rules restrict tennis rosters to eight players. If more than eight campers want to play, we hold a ladder tournament to determine the roster.
That said, sports competition is not for everyone. That is why we have incredible aquatics, adventure, and arts programs including things like Magic, Skate Park, Robotics, Radio, Music and more.
Not all of our camp competition, however, is relegated to WCCA events. What summer would be complete without a Color War type of competition?
Campers in our first session enjoy Tribals, a four team multi-day spirit competition. Vying for the “Deed of the Land”, campers play, sing, cheer, and laugh as they compete in spirit competitions in which everyone adds value to their Tribe. Campers in the second session enjoy Olympics, a five day competition between Army and Navy teams that dates back to our founding in 1953.
So, whether you are an athlete who wants to improve or an artist that is thrilled to explore the creative side of camp, Weequahic has something fun to offer. See you at camp!
If your child is dreaming about camp, it’s not too soon to make a choice for summer 2011! Many campers are counting the days until they can return, anticipating seeing friends and staff, and looking forward to another super summer. Others are wondering about camp for the first time. For everyone, there are a number of resources and ways to find out more about each camp.
Here are a few suggestions for choosing which camp is the best fit for your camper:
1. Talk to friends and family who have already been to camp. One camper recently chose Camp Weequahic to follow in the footsteps of a cousin and a friend. Since the seasoned campers had a wonderful time and could not stop talking about their adventure, the new camper decided to go and experience things for herself. Other first time campers go to camp with a special friend or cousin who is also a first-timer. Some campers follow in the footsteps of an older relative and start a new generation of alumni—so, make sure to ask for suggestions from family and friends who may have been campers!
2. Watch camp videos, attend an information night (or both), and it will be easy to visualize the fun ahead. It often helps to picture the experience and imagine a specific setting. Campers can watch a video more than once and report that the video often gets them “hooked”. They start to see themselves at camp. A home visit is also a great way to make personal contact with actual campers and staff.
3. Explore each camp website to find out what’s distinct about that camp, check faqs and read firsthand accounts. You’ll find links to social media conversations and get a feel for each unique location. The websites are also a good place to check out changes and additions from previous years—there’s a lot going on.
4. For questions about homesickness, safety, how to tell if your child is ready for camp or more, read previous blogs that are packed with information and answers. If you’re wondering, someone else is probably wondering too!
5. If you’re planning for Summer 2012, make arrangements to visit camp this year. You can tour Camp Weequahic during the summer. Throughout the summer, Camp Weequahic your child can also sample the Weequahic experience through the Camper for a Day and Camper for a Week programs. Camp Starlight offers tours, as well.
6. Always remember that there are no dumb questions. Make a list and don’t feel that you can’t ask. Now is the perfect time to communicate with camp staff before camp is in full swing and fun is in full gear!
A Camp Weequahic parent recently shared with us that after seeing camp pictures, she immediately felt jealous and wished she could go too. That summer, her daughter’s first letter from camp arrived asking if she could stay 6 weeks instead of the 3 she had signed up for! Those first instincts from looking at photos online and a little research had helped find a perfect fit. Moral of the story: You don’t have to go far to find out more about camp. Don’t be surprised if the process turns out to be a lot of fun—everything about camp has a way of being that!
Do you have a story to share about selecting a camp with a friend or relative? Who would you choose to take to camp?
We started a new tradition at Weequahic a few years back that I look forward to each day while at camp: getting each camper’s happies for the day.
Every night, I go through the boys bunks and ask for their two favorite memories from the day. I often get a lot more than two! These happies run the gamut – activities (especially waterskiing and tubing), playing on a team, getting up on stage, the recently completed Evening Activity, chicken nuggets for lunch, etc.
This is my way of saying good night to each boy at camp and represents one of my favorite responsibilities: really getting to know our campers. Our female leaders at camp do the same for the girls.
It’s so ingrained, in fact, that some families have started to do it at night in their own homes. I love it!!
Focusing on your favorite memories at the end of a day gives you a leg up in lots of areas. First, it helps our campers who are missing home focus on everything great they experience at camp. Secondly, they have to think critically about their day to find what they were happiest about. Finally, it helps focus the mind on gratitude towards others. None of these ‘happies’ are created in a vacuum!
As we ended 2010, I couldn’t resist asking the kids about their happiest moments from the 2010 summer and year. As you can imagine, there was a wide range of answers. Here are the highlights:
100% mentioned their friends and/or being with their bunk
Activities were huge happies, especially waterfront, zip lining, and gaga!
Evening Activities such as MTV night and our Friday Night Camp Fires (and the smores!)
Tribals and Olympics (our two Color War experiences) were huge hits
Outside of camp, our little community was happy about:
Friends at camp and at home
A great list from a great group of kids. Thanks to everyone for sharing!
We’ll continue to ask for everyone’s favorite memories each day (staff – you, too!) this summer. Make sure you are thinking about it before you head off to bed. In fact, I suggest you start practicing at home right now!
Delta Airlines loves me. No, I won’t make it into their in-flight magazine anytime soon but I’ve flown so much in the past few years that I fear my car can just about steer itself to the airport.
While I don’t care for airport food, my ‘off season’ travel is certainly worth it. The planes and the people who fly them get me to where I REALLY like being: in the home of a family interested in Weequahic.
Of all the off season duties, home visits are easily my favorite. The time spent with families in their homes is invaluable. First of all, the nervous excitement of the kids is endearing. “Who is this guy with the picture book and why is he asking me to sit next to him?” they wonder. By the end of our time together, I hope they get a better idea of who I am and what the camp is all about.
Their parents also have their own questions. I know every parent I meet as I walk in their door is thinking “Can I trust this guy? Will he keep my child safe? Will he be honest with me?” They are very large questions that have to be answered. I admit I really enjoy answering all of them.
Home visits usually happen at the kitchen table or the living room couch. (That said, I’ve also met at roof top restaurants, soccer games, and the occasional Starbucks.) Seeing everyone in the family, including the pets, gives me a good snapshot of the child. Are there musical instruments lying around? Sport equipment? Is she wearing a dance uniform? Does that shirt means he’s a Jets fan? What are the siblings like? Is the child leading the conversation or nervous as can be? Every bit of information I can get is useful.
Why do I visit the homes? There are a couple of reasons. First, I’d want to know who the person in charge of my child’s community is before I send them off for 3 or 6 weeks. Building trust with the family, both initially and over time, represents one of my major goals.
Secondly, I need to know as much as I can about our new camp families, especially the camper. Since I personally build every bunk community at Weequahic, knowing who a child is and in what situation he or she would thrive in is essential. Additionally, learning more about the parents – whether they have camp experience themselves, their major concerns, etc. – allows me to tailor each visit and relationship.
Third, there is no better medium in which to answer questions about the camp. Sure, I’m happy to speak on the phone and we’ve got lots answers on our website. However, getting together, face to face, allows the questions to flow more effectively. (I’ve even written about a few questions that might help!)
Finally, I want the camper to know someone when they get off the bus. That first day of camp is incredibly exciting and satisfying to me. Seeing the campers get off the bus with their wide eyes, nervous grins, and (hopefully small) knot of nervousness in their stomach is simply a wonderful experience for me. I’ll be there greeting them all day!
So, if you are thinking about a home visit, please call or write. I’d be thrilled to meet you and answer any questions I can. See you soon!
We are proud of our ‘no tech’ policy at camp. It allows our campers and staff to focus what’s important – the interactions with each other that can only happen at camp. That said, tech is certainly not all bad.
Believe it or not, camp doesn’t end with the buses heading home on August 10th. Sure, there won’t be 300 Weequahic maniacs enjoying Olympics, roasting marshmallows, or singing (shouting, really) songs for another 10 months in Lakewood, PA. But, thanks to modern tech, the Weequahic community continues to thrive throughout the year.
I’ve just enjoyed four reunions in Florida (Hollywood, Palm Beach Gardens, Orlando, and Boca). As I type this out, I’m on a plane headed to Los Angeles, CA to have a reunion and meet new families. We’ve got more get togethers coming up in New York and New Jersey soon as well.
The phone has certainly been useful in getting these events up and running but the internet has really made it easier. We’ve started to build a thriving Facebook community with parents and our older campers. Twitter has also been useful, especially when I visit areas around the country. This blog is helpful in spreading the major messages of Weequahic: gratitude, courage, and great staff, among others.
The get togethers are certainly not just ‘camp created.’ I often hear of our younger campers getting together with others in the local area for playdays. Some are even teammates on soccer teams. At the Boca Raton ice cream reunion, I heard all about the plans of some of New Jersey and New York campers to come down to visit south Florida. One of our Boca Raton CITs is actually heading up to NY in December (and I don’t think it’s to see the snow….)
A final way we keep campers, parents and staff up to date with news from their friends is through our newsletters. We collect a lot of great information – such as Miss Katz making it to the cheerleading national championships a few weeks ago! Keep an eye out for the next one in January, everyone. (And keep us posted with news!!)
We do everything we can to keep our community tight, exciting, engaging, and fun throughout the year. Thankfully, with a great collection of nice kids from all over the planet (and a little help from technology), it’s easier to do than ever before. See you next summer!
Three or six weeks is really not a lot of time to impress life lessons into children (or staff for that matter). Therefore, we do our best to keep it simple at Weequahic. I’ve already written about gratitude as a core value. Today I’d like to touch on another of our core values: Choice.
While campers have a lot of choice in daily program at Weequahic, that is not the aspect of choice on which I mean. Rather, I’d like to focus on the more global meaning of the word.
Campers who attend a Friday night non-denominational service or just sit around for a chat with me will notice I often bring up the idea of choice. How do they choose to react to a situation? What are they choosing to say to themselves and to others?
Many young people don’t think about their choices, much less that they have control over them. I know didn’t really think about it until college. That is when I heard about William James and his very simple but profoundly important conclusion: We are the only ones who have control over our thoughts.
Simple, right? For anyone who has ever thought about it, it makes absolute sense. However, we rarely think about this most fundamental choice. Rather, we simply glide along reacting from habit or the way ‘crowd’ might expect.
A mentor of mine recently told a story of doctor who works with people with difficult injuries and afflictions. Rather than ask his patients “How are you feeling today?”, the doctor always asked “What are your plans for the day?” Do you see the difference?
The first question makes you react to your situation, whatever that may be. The patient would focus on their ailment or pain. The second question prompts the patient to think about the choices that lay ahead of them. It also reminds them that they are in control of those choices.
Seth Godin, one of my favorite thinkers and this year’s keynote speaker at the ACA Tri-State Conference, recently wrote about choices a person chooses to make. Choices, and their consequences, are even a mantra in the recent thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Choices abound in our incredible society. We are fortunate to have protected choices of religion, action, and thoughts. It’s vitally important that we think about these choices and there consequences and teach young people the power they have over their own choices.