School is FINALLY over! The weather is warm. It’s summer. But as a camper, you know that it’s never REALLY summer until you get to camp, and in just one more week, you’ll be there. The closer arrival day gets, the more you replay what you know is about to happen in your head. There are little signs every year that mark that day to which you’ve been counting down for several LOOOONNNNGGG months. But it’s most definitely summer when you know this is about to happen…
Your parents will take you to a meeting place for a bus or plane ride to camp, or maybe they’re driving you to camp themselves. The trip to camp will seem 10X longer than it actually is because you just want to get there.
Your mom will most definitely cry when she says goodbye and assures you she’ll see you on Visiting Day. You’re so excited you can hardly stand it, but maybe you’ll cry a little too just so that she doesn’t feel bad.
As soon as you pull into camp, you’ll start looking for your camp friends. Maybe they’ll spot you first. No matter who finds whom, you’ll run and hug. After hugs all around with your friends, you’ll also hug your favorite returning counselors and staff members.
You’ll meet your bunk mates (if you don’t already know them) and your new counselors, who are every bit as excited as you that you’re finally at camp!
You’ll go into your new cabin with your friends and realize that you really ARE at camp. Another summer has begun! Bring on the FUN!
You’ll spend the rest of the day cheering, singing and laughing with your friends. This is just day 1, and the entire summer is ahead of you. But it’s definitely summer because all of this happened, just as you knew it would.
In just 23 more days, you’ll be getting off the bus for the official start of Summer 2013. That means that we’re just a few weeks away from…
1.) days in the pool
2.) Maneuvering the Ropes course
3.) Playing Rubber Chicken
4.) Gaga, anyone?
5.) Pulling out our tennis rackets
6.) Improving our swing in baseball
7.) Scoring goals on the soccer field
8.) Trying new tricks in the Skate Park
9.) Making some awesome crafts in the A&C Studio
10.) Learning new moves in dance
11.) Cooking up some sweet treats in the Cooking Studio
12.) Campfires and s’mores
13.) Another season of some great Tribals and Olympic competition
14.) Trying out our acting chops
15.) Shooting some hoops on the bball courts
16.) Building something fantastic in Woodshop
17.) Healthy workouts in fitness
18.) Flipping in Gymnastics
19.) Boating on the Waterfront
20.) Hikes to Jericho’s
21.) Enjoying out of camp trips
22.) Awesome evening activities
23.) Dining room cheers
23 reasons why we can’t wait to see you in 23 days!
Parents: Camp is in full swing. So we figure it is the perfect time to talk about the importance of maintaining good communication with your Camp Directors throughout the summer.
Camp is a big deal for your children and for you. Whether you’ve planned a quiet summer at home or have an awesome vacation planned, we know that your top priority is to know that your children are having an amazing summer. You can help, simply by being informative.
We’re first and foremost concerned for your child’s safety and well being. Some of you probably wonder why we ask for photos of your children prior to camp. It’s so that we can show them to your children’s counselors when we discuss your children’s activity preferences with them so that they can greet campers by name from the moment they step off the bus and have full knowledge of how to make their summer successful.
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of communicating medical issues. Whether it’s an allergy to certain foods or insects, perhaps a dietary restriction, asthma, a vitamin deficiency, or wetting the bed, your camp directors need to know so that these matters can be handled appropriately as situations relating to them may occur throughout the summer.
We also want to know what your children’s interests are. If we know your child can’t get enough soccer, for instance, we can make sure that he/she gets maximum exposure to soccer during the summer. Knowing what your children like only helps us guarantee they have the summer of a lifetime.
Personal family matters are never easy, but if there is something happening at home—a divorce, illness in the family, academic issues, etc. it helps us to know. Perhaps it’s a positive development. Your child has landed a new role in a film, has made a particularly competitive athletic team, has earned a special honor at school. Whatever IS your children’s lives at the moment they come to camp, we want to be able to channel it into an amazing summer for them. And we’re confident we can. Otherwise, we wouldn’t ask. As your child’s “summer family”, we want to know how we can help them be at their best.
If anything comes up between the time you put your child on the bus or plane to come to camp and the time we put them back on the bus or plane to come home that might affect his or her summer, please call us. We want to know what’s happening. We want to understand how we can make your child’s stay at our camp effortless and memorable. Even if it’s minor, if you have any reason for pause, please call us. We want to be proactive in making your child’s experience memorable.
Believe it or not, we are already planning our first day of camp this summer. Yes, even in the midst of a rainy and cool spring, we are thinking about every aspect of our campers’ first few hours at Weequahic.
Think about your own experiences with first impressions. They are important, right? Malcolm Gladwell, in his wonderfully thoughtful Blink, demonstrates the awesome power of first experiences with art, music, friends, and more. We want to do everything we can to make that first impression a fantastic one!
Before Campers Get on the Bus
Isn’t it nice to walk into your room, find your bed made, clothes neatly put away, and huge signs saying “Welcome!” We think it is and know, from experience, our campers like it, too!
Parents help us start camp by sending their child’s clothing and bedding to Weequahic 10 days before camp starts. Camp Trucking makes this very easy for our families. Some families in the local area will even drive the bags up to camp.
Our counselors unpack every kid in our Junior and Inter (rising 2nd through 8th graders) divisions before they arrive, tucking things neatly away into each child’s cubbies. We make their beds, which we’ve arranged specifically. Then, we make the cabin look fun and inviting for each camper.
By the time our counselors have finished these tasks, they cannot wait to see the kids!
Getting to Camp – By Land or Air
The vast majority of our campers arrive to Weequahic by bus. It’s a great way to start the experience. In fact, we always say camp starts as soon as you get on the bus!
Several of our counselors travel to our pick up areas to meet our campers and their families. They’ll be wearing our Weequahic staff shirts and will be greeting you with enormous smiles. Our counselors will be there to help campers find their pre-assigned seats on the bus.
Yes, that’s right – I assign our campers’ seats on the bus or plane. I’m not a big fan of the ‘where am I supposed to go’ feeling, especially when setting up a great experience for children. I simply find this kind of direction makes for a more comfortable start to camp.
Campers sit by age group so that new campers will have a chance to meet other campers of the same age immediately. We also place our counselors throughout the bus in order to make sure everyone is doing well. The bus will be full of songs, laughter, and even a few minutes of the camp video just before the kids arrive at Weequahic.
Arriving at Camp
Once the doors open, our counselors, having just finished a nine day orientation, are excitedly waiting to greet the kids. Campers are directed to their bunk counselors who are holding big signs with their names and bunk numbers. I’ll be at the door of each bus as it arrives as well, happily greeting each one of our campers to Weequahic.
We’ll get the kids organized by bunk in our picnic area, check them into camp, and whisk them to their bunks. Once they’ve had a chance to put their bus bags down, we head right back out for lunch or snack, depending on when they arrive, and for some fun activities that afternoon.
Our office team will be calling home to let our parents know about the bus arrivals and we’ll begin posting pictures immediately. (Hey, we know it’s stressful on the parents as well!)
We’ll enjoy some tours of camp, special activities, and a good bit of bunk bonding time. The evening is set up as a huge welcome to everyone at camp as a whole. We introduce all of the top program and bunk staff and have a great evening together. Then, we are back to our bunks for our first night at camp.
I’ll visit each bunk of boys that night to spend some time and start our tradition of ‘Two Happies.’ Kate and our female leadership will do the same on girl’s side.
Then, it’s lights out (though a light stays on in the bathroom….) The excitement around camp is palpable. The kids are excited about what their first full day of activities will hold. The staff members are thrilled to meet their new charges and start building an incredible bunk community. The directors are happy to finally be done with all the planning and ready to start camp.
The first day at camp is an important one and we do our best to make it exciting, warm, and inviting. We hope you and your camper enjoys it!
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!
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!
You’ve collected the brochures, visited the web sites, maybe you’ve visited a camp or two. You may have even have marked off a few weeks in July on your calendar. But you did it in pencil, because you just can’t get rid of that nagging question – is my child, my baby (sniff) ready for overnight camp?
There is no magic formula or age for camp, and every child is unique; but there are some tried and true signs of readiness. So before you pack the tennis racquets and the swimsuits, start by answering these five questions:
1. Is your child interested in and asking about camp?
Spring has just sprung – if your child is already asking about going away to camp, take that as a good sign. Children who are self-motivated and interested in attending camp have a greater chance of being successful once they arrive. Point your child to this: It’s My Life, a PBS web site for tweens, which has advice specifically for kids headed to camp. The site even encourages kids to talk to their families first. What mom doesn’t love that tidbit?
2. Can your child manage personal care needs and the tasks of daily living without mom around? On their own?
Overnight camp involves independent living. Does your child get dressed for school without your help? Can he/she fix themselves a snack? Take a shower? Remember to brush their teeth? If they still need help or daily reminders, you don’t have to keep them home (remember, your child will have great camp counselors to care for them), but you may want to encourage more self-reliance, a good quality to have at home, too.
3. How long has your child been away overnight without you? Was it a positive experience?
If your child loves sleepovers and slumber parties (at other people’s houses) transitioning to sleep-away camp may be a breeze. A week at grandma’s isn’t the same as three or four weeks at summer-camp; but if an overnight without you has never worked, do some trial runs before registering your child for camp. My own personal role model, Supernanny, has some great tips for making sleepovers a breeze.
4. Does your child have a healthy respect for adults and listen to instructions?
Life will be much easier for everyone if your child is good at following instructions and is willing to go along with camp rules. Just keep in mind that our kids often reserve their worst behavior for us, their parents, bless them. If your child is well-behaved in school, with coaches and other adults in positions of authority, they should do fine at camp.
5. Is your child willing to try new things?
Life comes at you fast, Ferris Bueller said, and the same is true for summer camp. Each day is filled with new people to meet, new surroundings, and new activities to try. For kids willing to give it a go, there’s no better place to spread their wings than summer camp.
The Bottom Line
No one knows your child like you do – even after you’ve completed all the quizzes and checklists and asked all your friends about their kids’ experiences, the best thing to do is trust your instincts. If you feel it in your gut that your child can handle overnight camp, you’re probably right. Get ready… summer is on its way!