There are many things campers notice when they arrive at camp the first day. They notice the cabins, all of the new faces, the baseball fields, ropes course, tennis courts and acres and acres of open space to run in, play in and explore in. But one of the most breathtaking and exciting parts of camp is the lake. With “so-clear-you-can see-right-to-the-bottom” waters, the lake and sandy shoreline is a popular place for campers to spend the majority of their summers.
When it comes to watersports, campers can try a variety of different options while at Camp Weequahic. Campers can relax and learn the art of fishing, or work their muscles on a standup paddle board, or they can get their heart rate up as they experience the speed and thrill of wakeboarding and water skiing. The lake doesn’t just offer a location to try new sports; it serves as the backdrop for the time in their lives when kids will remember they tried something new. It will be the place they fondly remember as the spot where they faced their fears, tried something new, and had the time of their lives.
The lake also serves as a great place for reflection and peace. A quiet stroll along the shoreline can be a great place for a confidential conversation between friends, a quiet place for journaling or writing letters back home, or simply a place to connect with nature. Warm, sunny days heat the water to a comfortable 80 degrees during the day, making it easy to run, splash and play in the crystal clear waters all day long. (Don’t worry, sunscreen is readily available and lifeguards and other professionals are always around!)
The lake is a central part of camp, and it brings campers together in a variety of ways. Camp Weequahic would feel incomplete without all of the activities, events and life lessons that are centered on the lake. Self-confidence, friendships and trust are all built on the lake. Campers who come from a part of the country where they don’t have access to such a beautiful part of nature really connect and enjoy everything the lake has to offer.
The lake is so much more than just a body of water in the middle of camp. The lake is a place that campers really connect with, and where lifelong memories are made.
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!
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!
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!
I wish you could have seen my face the first day of summer camp; my excitement was so contagious I was worried the nurse would put me in quarantine. That being said, my excitement had nothing to do with sports. So far as I was concerned, sports were just another stressful school activity, and to be honest I was initially disappointed when I first saw “basketball” on my daily schedule.
Fast forward a week later, and I was signing up for golf and baseball of my own free will, and even organizing pickup games during rest hour. While I’d dreaded sports at school, they quickly become one of my favorite activities at camp!
So what happened? Well, it might sound a little cheesy, but it didn’t take much camp spirit to change my attitude. Let me explain…
Camp is “different.” In a good way.
Although many of the team sports at camp are familiar from the team sports at school, the experience of participating in sports at camp can be a completely different experience. In a good way, of course.
For campers who thrive on organized sports at school, camp offers a unique opportunity: a chance to hone skills in a more focused environment, and access to incredible coaches who are completely invested in helping their campers have a blast and build their skills. “You mean I get to spend all day long outside playing games?” For sporty campers, the athletics program at camp is paradise.
For campers who might be less inclined towards sports at school, on the other hand, camp offers a different kind of advantage: a chance to try a wide variety of sports in a stress-free environment, without the pressures that come along with the high-stakes atmosphere of organized team competitions at school.
Learning to challenge yourself
I know I wasn’t the only convert; many other campers who would never describe themselves as sporty outside of camp found themselves discovering the more positive, pro-personal-growth side of athletics during their time at camp. If the school environment sucks the fun out of volleyball for you, just try it at camp! It’s a totally different game. Trust me.
When competitive sports let me down at school, I thought it was everyone else’s fault. But getting a chance to chill out and try new things at camp taught me that actually, it wasn’t anybody’s fault; I just needed to relax and learn to be okay with winning some days and losing on others. You know, just like life.
Camp is a great environment to try new things
Regardless of a camper’s feelings towards sports at school, the number one difference that camp has to offer is this: variety.
At camp, it’s not a question of fitting a sport or two around academics; it’s a question of fitting as many sports as you can imagine into a single day! Roller hockey, golf, flag football, lacrosse, cheerleading, baseball, tennis, soccer… and those are just the tip of the iceberg.
The chances for finding a sport that suits you are endless, and if you don’t care for a particular game you aren’t stuck with it; after all, a new one will be starting up next period.
Keep an open mind
So here’s my advice to a new camper who might be anxious about team activities at camp: relax, give it a try, and keep an open mind. The best part of camp is that the scenery is always changing. Even if you decide that an activity isn’t up your alley, you can always sign up for something new next time.
…And once you do discover your favorite sport, it’s just a question of signing up as much as possible!
Camp Weequahic was founded in 1953 on an old farm in Lakewood, PA. Art Lustig, who at the time was a teacher and coach at Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ, decided to turn his popular day camp into a residential camp.
With the help of his wife, Mollie, and his three children and their spouses, Mr. Lustig took what used to be an old farm in Lakewood, PA, and turned it into a remarkable summer home for campers and staff alike. Deciding to use what he knew to be a great name, Camp Weequahic was born.
We recently viewed several pictures of CW from its founding. Our Lodge, which serves as the camp office, was shown very clearly with absolutely no trees around it. It’s funny to think about that as the Lodge now enjoys near constant shade from our 100’+ spruce pines.
The Lustig family ran Camp Weequahic continuously from 1953 until 2008. Starting in 2009, the Kelly family took up the torch and has since done nothing else but help welcome campers and staff to Mr. Lustig’s camp.
We are honored to be a part of Camp Weequahic’s history and look forward to many, many more summers by Sly Lake.
Olympic session’s Color War is, for many campers, the highlight of their time here at Weequahic. It is the craziest, most memorable week they will have at camp. Color War is something campers look forward to all summer and is truly a bonding experience for everyone. For our CIT’s, however, Color War is the pinnacle of their time at CW. It rounds out the many years they have spent here and is the finishing touch to their experience as campers.
Color War is led by all the CIT’s, with the help of two counselors, and really gives them all a chance to show leadership, responsibility, team work, gratitude, attitude, and courage to our younger campers. Our CIT’s must show good sportsmanship and team spirit and really lift up their teammates and give them a reason to win.
During Color War, competitions include various sports, ceramics and woodworking and a CIT basketball game. Some camp favorites are tug of war, egg toss and bucket brigade. Apache, a similar competition to the Gitch (Tribal Wars), involves every team member in a giant relay race. Another fun event is marble call. Whenever a specific song is played over the intercom campers must run to the flag pole to put colored marbles in their buckets. This event is particularly funny because it can happen at any time.
On the final evening of Color War, we have sing night. Over the course of the week all the CIT’s practice for this event because it is a really special time when all of camp comes together to celebrate the summer we have all had together. Each team presents their plaque along with a skit. The CIT’s from each team then share their March, a song to celebrate their respective team, Memory, an Alma Mater from a previous summer, and Alma Mater, a song about their experience here at Weequahic.
Color War is a very special time at camp and is a wonderful chance for us to grow and become a closer community. It is a great opportunity for our CIT’s be true leaders and we know they will do a fantastic job. We want to wish everyone a fun and exciting Color War and cannot wait to see all our CIT’s in action!
Tomorrow is Wee-Excel Day; a special event day focusing on a camper’s program of choice. There are a wide range of activities for campers to choose from including Sports, the Arts, Adventure and “Olympic Prep.”
Some of our intensive sports camps include basketball, golf and roller hockey. Those campers wanting to play golf go to a local club where they get to play 9 holes on a challenging course. Our golfers love this opportunity because they really get to push themselves and see how much they have improved over the summer.
We also offer day long hikes for all age groups and our campers absolutely love the experience. Hikes are broken up by division and trails usually run for about 4 miles. The views are spectacular and campers get to cool down in falls that they pass along their route. After a long hike campers are treated to Jericho’s ice cream and feel refreshed upon their return to camp!
In preparation for our performance of Shrek, campers involved in the play have the entire day to practice their lines and songs, set designers can put their finishing touches on set pieces and the stage crew can work on lighting and cues. We also have a creative option for campers interested in activities such as scrapbooking, ceramics, photography, and painting. This gives campers a chance to paint any items they have made in ceramics or woodworking or make a book full of all the wonderful memories they have made here at camp.
In anticipation of Olympics, all our campers have been trying to guess when the breakout will happen. Olympics is a very exciting multi-day event that all our campers and counselors look forward to, so we have something called “Olympic Prep” for our older campers. These campers practice for certain events such as the hatchet hunt, grape tossing and counting to a minute (with a blindfold on). This gets all our campers super pumped up for Olympics breakout and is also a prime opportunity for our older campers to utilize their leadership skills on their respective team and help younger campers in their events when the time comes.
Wee-Excel Day is a wonderful opportunity for all our campers to dive into an activity they truly enjoy. Campers get to see the amount of improvement they’ve made over the course of the summer. It is also a time for them to use all the skills they have learned from counselors and fellow campers.
Calling all athletes. If sports where you walk off the field sweaty, sore and completely exhausted are your thing, lacrosse should be at the top of your “Sports To Try” list. Lacrosse is a very physical, fast paced game that involves a lot of running, hand eye coordination and agility. It is a team sport, in which players equipped with long sticks with mesh nets at the end compete to throw, catch and pass a little rubber ball to their teammates, with the ultimate goal being to launch it into the opposing teams goal.
Camp Weequahic offers campers the opportunity to suit up and give lacrosse a try. This sport, just like all of the sports at camp, are organized, taught and supervised by trained coaches and professionals of the sport. Safety is always the number one concern, and campers are required to wear all necessary safety equipment including a helmet, mouthpiece and gloves. Players are educated on the rules and techniques associated with the game, and are watched carefully to ensure everyone has fun and injuries are avoided.
Lacrosse games are played on one of many athletic fields across camp, and provide beautiful scenery for players and spectators alike. One of the cool things about playing lacrosse at camp is that you will be able to compete with other teams from other camps. This is exciting for those athletes who are naturally competitive and get excited about some friendly competition. Lacrosse is not just for campers who consider themselves all around athletes. It is a great sport for beginners too, and there is no safer place to try something new than America’s Finest Summer Camps. Lacrosse involves a lot of running and cardio work, which is great for weight loss and keeping your heart and lungs healthy. It also builds muscle and stamina.
Sports at Camp Weequahic are designed for every camper, whether a trained athlete or a rookie. Camp Weeequahic keeps sports fun, and encourages friendly competition while keeping the old saying in mind, “it’s all about having fun.”
For campers going back to a middle or high school with a lacrosse team, they can use this summer to perfect their skills, learn the game, and fall in love with the sport before school tryouts.
Lacrosse is an action packed game and is a great way to meet new friends, stay healthy and add to your quickly growing list of “new things I want to try at camp.”